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RED VIENNA

RED VIENNA
Experiment in
Working-Class Culture
1919-1934
Helmut Gruber

New York Oxford


OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS
1991

( )x lo r< l I J n i v e r s i ly P r e s s
O xford New York T o ro n to
I Vllii Bombay Calcutta Madras Karachi
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Nairobi D a re s Salaam C ape Town
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and associated com panies in
Berlin Ibadan

Copyright 1991 by O xford University Press, Inc.


Published by O x ford University Press, Inc.,
200 Madison Avenue, New York, New York 10016
O xford is a registered tradem ark o f O xford University Press
All rights reserved. N o pa rt o f this publication may be reproduced,
stored in a retrieval system, o r transm itted, in any form o r by any means,
electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, o r otherwise,
without the p rio r permission o f O xford University Press.
Library o f Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
G ru ber, H elm ut, 1 9 2 8 Red Vienna : experim ent in working-class culture, 1919 -1934 /
H elm ut G ruber,
p. cm.
Includes index.
ISBN 0-19-506914-5
1. Vienna (Austria) Social conditions. 2. Vienna (Austria)
Social policy. 3. W orking class Austria Vienna H istory
20th century. 4. Vienna (Austria) P opular c u lture H istory
20th century. 5. Austro-Marxist school History 20th century.
6. Vienna (Austria) History 1 9 1 8 - I. Title.
H N 418.V 5G 78 1991
306'.094 36/ 13 dc20
90-24065 C IP

0 M7 6 5 4 3 2 1
l*i Inled in the U nited States o f America
on a id-free paper

.\l 6
6 -7 8
1111

For Kthe Leichter (189 5-194 2)


Sociologist, Socialist, Feminist,
and Courageous Human Being

/1 U Y

Preface

In carrying o u t this study a n d critique o f the V iennese socialists attem pt to


c re a te a working-class cu ltu re, I have c o n fro n te d the symbolic an d mythic
aspects o f th e subject, which have d isto rte d it. T hese stem in p art from the
public re p re se n ta tio n s o f socialist leaders at the time. They also have been
revived in re c e n t decades by A ustrian historians o f the working class in shap
ing a heroic past to serve as a trad ition usable by the postw ar Socialist party
(SPO). In the process o f dem ythologizing the cultural e xp erim en t, its Austro m a rx ist lead ersh ip has unavoidably lost its heroic sheen. H ow ever lim
ited th e success o f these leaders o r con tradicto ry th eir p erc e p tio n o f both
w orkers a n d c u ltu re, th e ir com m itm ent to socialist ideals a n d dedication to
th e class in w hose nam e they claim ed to speak c a n n o t be challenged.
A lth o ug h th eir d a rin g vision overshadow ed a n d d isto rte d the actual accom
plishm ents o f th e ir ex p erim en t, re d V ienn a rem ains a m odel o f cultural
e x p e rim e n ta tio n in th e socialist m ovem ent. In th at guise it provides us with
fresh insights in to the practices o f all such ex perim en ts d irected from
above, a n d the resistance o f stru ctu res, custom s, a n d actors they are b o u n d
to e n c o u n te r.
All books are collective efforts in th e sense that au th o rs d e p e n d o n a g ro u p
o f advisors a n d critics w ho co n stitu te a m in iature audience. I have b een very
fo rtu n a te in receiving th e supportive a n d challenging read in g o f versions
a n d sections o f th e developing m anuscript. I am especially in d eb ted to
A nson R abinbach, Geoffrey Field, a n d A delheid von Saldern, who p o in ted
o u t e xu b e ra n c e s a n d excesses th at n e e d e d rethin kin g a n d m odification and
w ho e n c o u ra g e d my a tte m p t to view th e V ienna ex p erim en t in a larger,
in tern atio n al context. Several d ra ft c h ap ters also had the benefit o f crtitical
readings by Istvan Deak, J o a n Scott, a n d Felix F. Strauss, fo r which I would
like to express my gratitude.
My p e rc e p tio n o f th e b o o k s o rientatio n, sense o f th e m yriad details, and
access to invaluable oral history collections w ere e n h a n c e d by contacts and
conversations ov er several years with th e following y ou n g er historians o f the
A u strian w orking class: R ein h ard Sieder, Jo se p h E hm er, A lfred Pfoser,
T h e o V enus, G o ttfrie d P irh ofer, Siegfried Mattl, Friedrich Stadler, G er

Vlll

Preface

h a r d Meisl, G e rh a rd Steger, Karl Fallend, H ans Safrian, a n d J o se p h Weid en h olzer. A lth ou g h they may n o t agree with my critical perspective, they
nevertheless h e lp e d to shape it.
T h e friendly re c e p tio n a n d perso n al assistance I received at various
V iennese archives a n d university institutes which gave me unlim ited
access to all o f th eir m aterial a n d allowed me to re a d theses a n d dissertations
b e fo re being catalogued, a n d w hose directo rs o ffered helpful h in ts were
indispensable to my work. My thanks fo r this high d eg re e o f scholarly co o p
e ra tio n go to th e following: In stitu te f r W irtschafts- u n d Sozialgeschichte,
In stitu t f r Zeitgeschichte, a n d In stitu t f r V olkskunde all o f the U niver
sity o f Vienna; K am m er f r A rb e ite r u n d Angestellte, Dr. Eckhart F r h and
Dr. Karl Stubenvoll; D okum entationsarchiv des sterreichischen W ider
standes, Dr. H e r b e r t S tein er a n d Dr. W olfgang N eu g eb au er; s te rre ic h
isches Circus- u n d Clow nm useum , Mr. B erthold Lang; Bezirksmuseum
R udolfsheim -Fnfhaus, Dr. J o s e p h Ehm er; In stitu t f r G eschichte d e r
M edizin am Jo sefineum , Dr. Karl Sablik; Allgemeines V erw altungsarchiv
des sterreich isch en Staatsarchiv, Dr. Isabelle Ackerl; Archiv d e r Stadt u n d
L an d W ien; Archiv des sterreich isch en G ew erkschaftsbundes; Film
L ad en, Dr. Franz Grafl; Archiv d e r Volksstimme; In stitu t f r W issenschaft
u n d Kunst.
T h e c e n te r o f my research in V ienna fo r five sum m ers was the V erein
f r G eschichte d e r A rbeiterbew egung. Its d ire c to r, Dr. W olfgang M aderth a n e r, a colleague in every sense o f the term , provided an a tm o sp h e re o f
scholarly conviviality, served as a so u rce o f in form ation a n d contacts to p e r
sons a n d places vital to my work, a n d supplied m ost o f the p h o to g ra p h s for
th e book. I am m ost grateful fo r his generosity.
Discussions following th e public p re se n ta tio n o f p o rtio n s o f the work in
p ro g ress w ere b o th stim ulating a n d useful. These included: the 17th I n te r
natio n al C o n fe re n c e o f L a b o u r H istorians at Linz in 1981; the H arv ard
University C e n te r fo r E u ro p e a n Studies at C am bridge, M assachusetts, in
1984; th e Seco nd U N E SC O In te rn a tio n a l F o ru m o n the H istory o f the
W orking Class at Paris in 1985; a n d the University S em inar in the History
o f th e W orkin g Class at C olum bia University in New York City in 1986. At
O x fo rd University Press, N ancy L ane a n d David Rolls enthusiasm for my
bo ok fro m the very b e g in n in g was tran slated into a caring guidance o f the
m a n u sc rip t in its various transfo rm atio n s.
T h e origins o f this b o o k are difficult to trace. N o d o u b t the vivid m em ory
o f eig h teen m o nth s sp en t as a boy in V ienna in 1 9 3 8 -3 9 b efo re I was forced
to e m ig rate with th e possibility, in those tro u b le d times, o f exp lo rin g the
city fro m e n d to e n d in the co m p an y o f friends a n d w ithout adu lt supervi
sion was o n e o f the impulses. I am c ertain th a t my wife, Franoise Jo uv en ,
will a p p re c ia te th at I have resisted bow ing to the convention o f reciting plat
itudes o f g ra titu d e o n h e r behalf.
Paris
August !W ()

IL G

Contents

1. Introduction

O b itu a ry fo r A ustrian Socialism


A M odel o f P ro le ta ria n C u ltu re

2. Vienna as Socialist Laboratory

3
5

12

V ienna, 1 9 1 9 -1 9 2 1 : A M ontage
13
A ustrom arxism : A T h eo ry fo r Practice?

3. M unicipal Socialism

29

45

Public H ousing: E n v iro nm ent fo r n e u e M ensch en


46
Public H ealth a n d Social W elfare: S haping the O rd e rly
W o rk e r Family
65
Public E ducation: Equality fo r W orkers and Rising
E x pectations
73

4. Socialist Party Culture

81

Elite C u ltu re R ejected a n d D esired


83
Magical Pow ers o f the W o rd
87
E n rich m en ts o f Taste: Music, T h e a te r, a n d the Fine Arts
96
T o C u ltu re T h ro u g h Action: Sports a n d Festivals as Symbols
o f P ow er
102

5. Worker Leisure: Commercial and Mass Culture


C om m ercial C u ltu re
116
N on com m ercial Leisure-Tim e Activities
120
P o p u la r C u ltu re C o n d e m n e d
123
T h e Cinem a: A D ream Factory?
126
Radio: Pulpit o f the People?
135
S p e c ta to r Sports: G ladiators o f Capitalism?
14 1

114

Contents

6. T h e Worker Family: Invasions o f the Private Sphere


T h e New W o m a n a n d th e T riple B u rd e n
147
Sexuality: R epression a n d Expression
155
Population Politics
157
Youth: Abstinence, Discipline, and Sublimation
165
Puritanism and Sexual Realities
170

7. C onclusion
Political Limits
C u ltural Limits

N otes

187

In dex

257

180
181
184

146

RED VIENNA

CHAPTER 1

Introduction

O bituary fo r A u strian S o cia lism


B etw een th e tw elfth a n d sev en teenth o f F eb ru ary 1934 the international
press gave fro n t-p a g e coverage to the u p rising o f A ustrian w orkers against
th e repressive, c o rp o ra tist g o v ern m en t o f E ng elb ert Dollfuss. T hese early,
c o n fu se d d ispatches p ic tu re d a civil w ar betw een a rm e d w orkers o f Vienna
a n d industrial cities in th e provinces d e te rm in e d to d e fe n d dem ocracy, on
o n e side, a n d g o v e rn m e n t tro o p s a n d elem ents o f the H e im w e h r1 b e n t on
d estro yin g the rep u b lic a n essence o f the A ustrian state, o n the o th er. Social
ism, in this small c en tral E u ro p e a n country, a p p e a re d to be fighting fo r its
life.
T h e foreig n la b o r a n d socialist press g re e te d the first re p o rts with mes
sages o f solidarity. L o n Blum, h e a d o f th e F re n c h Socialist party (SFIO),
p aid h o m ag e to th e A u strian w orkers fo r th eir defense o f liberty and
p led ged solidarity with th eir cause.2 A ndrew Conley, ch airm an o f the British
T ra d e U n io n C ongress (TUC), d eclared th a t fo r m any m on ths th e people
o f V ienna have b e e n living u n d e r a d ictato rsh ip with th e constitution sus
p e n d e d a n d political liberties a m ockery ; they th e re fo re h a d th e right to
d e fe n d th e institutions o f free citizenship. 3
As the actual situation in V ienna b ecam e c learer in the n e x t few days
only a few th o u s a n d w orkers h a d risen to engage th e full force o f the stales
repressio n , a n d th e call fo r a general strike h a d failed th e earlier optimism
gave way to h ero ic epitaphs. Blum now c o m p a re d the A ustrian w orkers to
th e C o m m u n a rd s b e fo re th e m ur des fdrs a n d e n d e d his p e ro ra tio n by
declaring, T h e revolutionary c o m m u n e o f V ienna has b e e n crush ed long
live th e co m m u n e! 4 Similar sentim ents w ere expressed by th e L a b o u r party
intellectual H a ro ld Laski, u n d e r the headline Salute to the V iennese M ar
tyrs, in co m p a rin g th e V ienna uprising to ihe Paris C o m m u n e a n d the Rus
sian Revolution o f 1905.5 Assessments in th e com m unist m ovem ent c o n
sisted mainly o f recrim inations. L H um anit accused th e A ustrian socialist
leaders o f having b ro u gh t o n th e d ebacle by p u ttin g th eir faith in b o u r
geois dem ocracy an d b ourgeois g o v e rn m e n ts" instead <>l "a c c e p tin g a

Red Vienna

un ite d fro n t with the c om m un ists. 11In th e C o m m u nist In te rn a tio n a ls own


vitriolic c o n d e m n a tio n , th e A ustrian w orkers h a d b een b ro u g h t u n d e r the
yoke o f fascism by th eir lead ers.7
As m ight be exp ected , the foreign conservative press in te rp re te d the
o n g o in g events differently. Le Temps accused th e socialists o f having obsti
nately refu sed to s u p p o rt the g o v ern m en t in its heroic struggle against
ex tern al forces th re a te n in g the in d e p e n d e n c e o f Austria. By n o t having
c o m p rom ised with reaction, they have s tre n g th e n e d the h a n d o f national
socialism. 8 Le Figaro suggested that with c ou rag e b u t also with foolish
carelessness, socialism has played its last ca rd [to rally its constituents] and
has lost, th ereb y playing into the han d s o f H itle r s follow ers. 9 T h e L o n d o n
Times was m o re c o n c e rn e d with the foreign political im plications than with
the fate o f the A ustrian socialists. It co n clu d ed th at C hancellor Dollfuss had
b een fighting o n two fro n ts a n d h ad s tre n g th e n e d his foreign political position by elim inating the left at h o m e .10 Interestingly, the New York Times
o ffered the m ost detailed a n d balanced coverage: daily dispatches, analysis,
a n d large p h o to essays. T h o u g h various fe a tu re articles expressed great
sympathy fo r casualties am o n g w om en a n d children a n d even co m m en d ed
(he female w orkers fo r fighting like the old p io n e e r w om en o f the A m eri
can p rairies, th e underly in g c o n c e rn was with th e foreign political
im plications."
Such were the obituaries fo r A ustrian socialism a n d the republic which
d isa p p e a re d with th e sto rm in g o f the w o rk er enclaves in Vienna. T h e re h ad
been n o civil w ar.12 A tiny m inority o f w orkers h a d risen spontaneously by
d isreg ard in g the cautious wait-and-see policy o f th eir leaders, who clung
desperately to constitu tio nal safeguards which h a d ceased to exist when
C h an cellor Dollfuss s u sp e n d e d p arliam ent in M arch 1933. F o r m o re th a n
a year th e leaders o f th e A ustrian Socialist p arty (SDAP) h a d suffered the
sam e paralysis o f will which had im m obilized th e G e rm a n left as H itler rose
to pow er. They repeatedly p o stp o n e d th e use o f fo rce to p re v e n t th e over
throw o f the republic, altho u gh .fo rce h a d b een a m easu re o f self-defense in
the SDAP p ro g ra m since 1926. This strategy o f passivity in the face o f the
g radual d em olition o f re p ub lican safeguards was in effect a capitulation to
t he c o rp o ra te state publicly p ro je c te d by Dollfuss a n d th e C hristian Social
p arty (Christian Socials). Ultimately th e in su rre c tio n o f th e few was only a
d e sp e ra te act in th e face o f a d efeat th a t was already a p p a re n t; it was also
d ire c te d against those socialist leaders w ho h a d c au tio n ed a n d counseled
against self-defense by th e workers, a n d who w ere absent d u rin g the crucial
h o u rs from F ebru ary 12 to 14 .15
T h e sub jug atio n o f th e A ustrian w orking class was viewed in virtually all
the press accounts as increasing the d a n g e r o f fascist expansion in E urope:
conservatives feared th a t A ustria would fall prey to Italian o r G erm an
aggression; socialists saw in the sup p ressio n o f th e SDAP by clerical fascism
an om inous rep etitio n o f th e d e stru c tio n o f G e rm a n socialism a year e a r
lier tlu* loss o f two pillars o f the L a b o r a n d Socialist In tern atio n al, which
w eakened the working-class m ovem ent. D espite the fact that passing horn-

Introduction

age was paid to the accom plishm ents o f Viennese m unicipal socialism in
b o th the labo r a n d middle-class p ress,14 strategic geopolitical o r institutional
c o n c e rn s w ere p a ra m o u n t.
U nderstand ably , th a t perspective the de stru c tio n o f a republic an d
th e liquidation o f a p arty o f 6 6 0 ,0 0 0 was p u t b efo re all o th e r consider
ations in th e crisis a tm o sp h e re o f that time. It is u n fo rtu n a te , however, th at
until very recently th e m ost significant casualty in F eb ru ary 1934, namely,
th e ex p e rim e n t to c reate a working-class c u ltu re in the socialist enclave o f
V ienna, has n o t received th e a tte n tio n it deserves. T h at a ttem p t to develop
a com prehen siv e p ro le ta ria n c o u n te rc u ltu re , going beyond piecemeal cul
tu ral re fo rm efforts o f socialist parties in o th e r c ou n tries a n d serving as an
a lte rn a te m odel to th e Bolsheviks e x p e rim e n t in Russia, is the subject o f
this book. In the Bolshevik exam ple p o p u la r en lig h ten m en t ideals, cultural
liberalism, a n d u to p ia n visions h a d b een at risk virtually fro m th e beginning
in th e struggle fo r o r d e r a n d con trol. T he Bolshevik p a rty s v a n g u a rd
position d e te rm in e d the co n tro lle d Soviet c u ltu re fo r the masses em erging
at the e n d o f the 19 2 0 s.15 T h e A ustrom arxists, a n d particularly O tto Bauer,
distan ced themselves fro m w hat they co n sidered th e d ictatorship o f a caste
o v er th e m asses.16 T h e ir cultural e x p e rim e n t was to be p red icated on
dem ocracy in a dual sense: relying on the political g ua ra n te e s o f a rep u b li
can g o v e rn m e n t a n d on the SD A Ps relation to th e ran k a n d file o f the
p a rty .17 W h at follows is n e ith e r an o bituary n o r a testim onial fo r this un iqu e
cu ltu ral land m ark b u t an e n d e a v o r to study it within its con tex t a n d to assess
its w ider significance.18

A M o d el o f P roletarian Culture
T h e Socialist p a rty s a tte m p t to create a com prehensive p ro letarian c o u n
te rc u ltu re was n o t an e x p e rim e n t in a form al, m ethodological sense o f pos
iting a hypothesis, e x te n d in g a n d testing it in practice, a n d evaluating its
results. Its e x p erim en tal quality lay in the d arin g a tte m p t to ex plo re the
u n k n o w n the b len din g o f c u ltu re a n d politics th ro u g h a com plicated n e t
w ork o f organizations aim ed at tra n sfo rm in g th e w orking class. Even
th o u g h the c ultural p ro je c t did n o t follow a b lu e p rin t b u t ra th e r evolved on
the basis o f e x p erien ce in daily practice, it flowed from a central b elief in
A ustrom arxist theory th a t c u ltu re could play a significant role in the class
struggle. If, as I a rgue, a m ain stre n g th o f this th eo ry was its flexibility, allow
ing socialist leaders o f the republic to re g a rd themselves as always acting
w ithin its compass, at th e p o p u la r level available to SDAP m em b ers a n d u n a f
filiated w orkers it also h a d an em blem atic a n d confidence-inspiring quality.
Unlike o th e r versions o f Marxism, it p ro m ised a foretaste o f the socialist
u to p ia o f the fu tu re in the p re se n t by locating the beginning o f the great
tra n sfo rm a tio n leading to a new socialist hum anity within capitalist society
itself, b e fo re the u ltim ate revolution. F o r the y o u n g er gen e ra tio n o f Austrom arxists, en gag ed in realizing the socialist project in Vienna, a boundless

Red Vienna

optim ism a b o u t a ttain ing th eir goal in th e h e re a n d now assum ed the c h a r


a c te r o f an illusion. M arie J a h o d a , o n e o f th e a u th o rs o f th e internationally
fam ous sociological study o f u nem plo ym ent, Die Arbeitslosen von Marienthal, 19 recalled: In V ienna we lived with th e g reat illusion th at we would be
th e g e n e ra tio n o f fulfillment, th a t o u r g en e ra tio n would establish d e m o
cratic socialism in Austria. O u r whole lives w ere based o n this fund am en tal
idea. T oday th e re is n o d o u b t th at this was an illusion, but it is also doubtless
th a t this illusion was constructive a n d en rich in g to life. 20
D u rin g th e early years o f th e cu ltu ral p ro je c t it was infused with the
g ra n d idealism, as party lead er O tto B a u e r p u t it, o f creatin g a revolution
o f souls. T ran slated into practical m easures, this m eant e d u catin g workers,
im proving th e ir e n v iro nm ent, shaping th e ir behavior, a n d tu rn in g them
in to conscious a n d self-confident actors.
T he c o rn e rsto n e o f the SD A Ps e x p erim en t was the m unicipal socialism
the party was able to im plant in V ienna. Historical circum stances m ade that
city receptive to innovations th at would e n h a n c e the lives o f its working
class. O n c e th e sparkling cultural capital o f c entral E u ro p e , o utshining
B udapest a n d P ra g u e as well as Berlin in th e brilliance o f its intellectual an d
artistic innovations a n d practices, V ien n a saw its lu ster vanish with th e onset
o f war a n d th e c o n se q u e n t collapse o f the m onarchy. D uring the 1920s tal
e n t m ig rated fro m V ienna to Berlin, which becam e the new c e n te r o f intel
lectual a n d artistic fe rm e n t.21 T h e stage was set fo r the w orking class, largely
invisible d u rin g the heyday o f b o urg eo is c ulture, to leave its im p rin t on the
city. Universal suffrage in 1919 gave the socialists absolute c o n tro l o f the
m unicipal g o v ern m en t, an d V ien n as u n iq u e pow er to raise substantial
taxes allowed th e city fath ers to carry o u t extensive social reform s. An am bi
tious h o u sin g p ro g ra m , c o u p le d with th e extension o f public health an d
social welfare services a n d th e radical re fo rm o f ed ucation , was a tte m p te d
with a view tow ard im proving th e en v iro n m e n t o f the w orking p opulation.
H a d th e SD A Ps cultural p ro je c t rested with the m unicipal socialist p r o
g ram in V ienna, it would have b een a u n iq u e accom plishm ent in and o f
itself. A ltho u gh similar social refo rm s were carried o u t u n d e r socialist ini
tiative in Berlin, F ran k fu rt, H an n o v er, Brussels, Paris, Lyons, L on d on ,
Stockholm , a n d o th e r m a jo r cities, n o w h e re else did th e socialists aspire to
as com p reh en siv e a goal o f tra n sfo rm in g the m unicipal en v iro n m en t o r suc
ceed in m aking so m any starts to w ard its realization as in V ienna. But the
A ustrian socialists w ere even m o re daring. Success in m unicipal refo rm
e n c o u ra g e d th e m to u n d e rta k e the far m o re com prehensive cultural tra n s
fo rm a tio n o f th e w o rkers lives implicit in th eir A ustrom arxist perspective.
A revolution in th e soul o f m a n , a fte r all, c o n ju re d u p a delving into the
inn erm o st reaches o f life in the private s p h e re an e xpansion o f the notion
o f c u ltu re to en co m p ass the w orkers total life, fro m the political a re n a a n d
w orkplace to the m ost personal a n d intim ate settings.
T hese in terven tio ns in clu d ed p rescription s fo r an o rderly family life an d
a new definition o f a w o m an s role in society; lectures, a vast array o f publit at ions, and libraries to stim ulate a n d elevate the m ind; associations for the

Introduction

e n ric h m e n t o f artistic taste; en c o u ra g e m e n ts fo r abstinence from tobacco


a n d alcohol, a n d adm o nitio n s a b o u t sexuality; organizations to instill social
ist ethics a n d com m unity spirit in ch ild ren an d y oung adults; a virtual sports
e m p ire to create healthy p ro le ta ria n bodies, to steel them fo r com ing stru g
gles, a n d to p ro je c t a new symbol o f pow er; a n d mass festivals to d e m o n
strate solidarity, discipline, a n d collective strength.
T h e p o in t o f d e p a r tu r e as well as the destin atio n o f this m o n u m en tal task
was th e party, o p e ra tin g th ro u g h a dense netw ork o f special, o ften overlap
ping, institutions. Its leaders w ere to provide the c o n te n t a n d form o f this
civilizing mission to alter the w orkers total environm ent. I f th eir main
m e th o d was to e d u c a te by providing knowledge, their desire to tran sfo rm
th e w orkers into h ig h er beings re q u ire d th e shaping a n d altering o f behav
io r above all. T h e n e e d to in terv en e in o r d e r to in teg rate the w orkers into
p arty life, taking the place o f everything else, was fra u g h t with n u m ero u s
contradictions.
R epeatedly A u strian socialist leaders, a n d O tto B auer in particular, p r o
claim ed th e ir re jection o f Bolshevik v a n g uard elitism a n d avowed th eir d e m
ocratic socialism.22 T h e ir party, they claimed, was a mass party o f m em bers
which was n o t simply d ire c te d fro m the to p bu t equally anim ated by its rank
a n d file. This view may have expressed the hop es o f B auer a n d o th e r SDAP
leaders, b u t it was n o t reflected in the life o f th e party, w here a stable oli
garchy d o m in a te d th e pyram idal organizational stru c tu re a n d w arded off
factions o r grass-roots initiatives which challenged its suprem acy. This fail
ing was n o t p a rtic u la r to the SDAP b u t prevailed in all the parties o f the
L a b o r a n d Socialist In te rn a tio n a l, which fo u n d it impossible to co pe with
masses o f w orkers seeking m em bership o r direction. T he m uch-vaunted
dem o cracy by which they distinguished themselves fro m b o urgeois p a r
ties as well as com m unists, c o n tra d ic te d practices within th e Socialist parties
them selves.23
G laring differences in perc e p tio n , needs, a n d priorities betw een socialist-leadership oligarchies a n d th e masses o f w orkers within a n d outside their
p arties w ere a m a jo r p ro b le m in interw ar E u ro p e. It was doubly so in the
SDAP, which was c o m m itted to blend ing c u ltu re with politics on a hith e rto
u n k now n scale. T h e principal directo rs o f the SDAP were n o t organic lead
e r s fo rm e d by an existing working-class c u ltu re, b u t largely au to n o m o u s
middle-class intellectuals d raw n to the w orkers as the historically p ro g re s
sive class. D espite th e u n d o u b te d stren g th o f th eir conviction in making
this choice, they h a d e x p erien ced a socialization a n d im bibed a cultural
value system far rem ov ed fro m th a t o f o rd in ary workers. C onsequently
these leaders cast th eir lot with the w orking class, to which they d edicated
th eir intellectual abilities, b u t also retain ed the psychological im prints o f
th e ir p rio r developm ent. This in n e r duality was reflected in their ou tw ard
relations with the workers: they could be fo r them but n ot o f them ; even
superficial aspects o f b ehavior speech, dress, c o m p o rtm e n t m ark ed the
b o u n d a rie s o f u n d e rs ta n d in g a n d e m p ath y .2''
liul even those m em b ers o f the SDAP elite who had risen from working-

Red Vienna

class origins to p ro m in e n c e in th e party im bibed th e values o f th e ir b o u r


geois/socialist co n fre re s a n d exhibited the same features o f social a n d cul
tu ral distance fro m th e ran k a n d file. O rganic leaders such as th e doyen Karl
R e n n e r o r th e rising yo ung socialist Jo s e p h B u tting er a c q u ired tastes an d
values in th e service o f the party th a t d istanced th em fro m th eir origins.25 It
w ould seem that th e very act o f lead ersh ip c o n fe rre d a differentiating ch a r
ac te r o n those assum ing such positions. O n e p ro blem faced n e ith e r then
n o r now was the ten d ency fo r the b o n d betw een leaders a nd followers to be
o n e o f d o m in a tio n /su b m issio n r a th e r th a n dem o cracy/co nsen sus: bo th
intellectual a n d organic leaders re sp o n d e d to psychologically distancing
m echanism s e m b e d d e d in th eir roles.
This dichotom y betw een leaders a n d followers was n o t resolved by the
A ustrian socialist leaders d u rin g the co u rse o f th e ir cultural ex p erim ent. By
a strange historical coincidence, while th e SDAP leaders were p u ttin g their
cu ltu ral innovations in to practice, the Italian com m unist lead er A ntonio
Gram sci was g ra p p lin g with the theo retical p ro b le m o f p ro le ta ria n cultural
p ow er a n d th e role o f leaders, while in c a rc e ra ted in a fascist prison cell.
Gram sci a rg u e d that, in o r d e r to free th e w orking class fro m the intricate
netw o rk (consensual, b u t backed by th e pow er to coerce) by which the b o u r
geoisie exercised a cu ltu ral a n d ideological hegem ony over society, it was
absolutely necessary fo r the w orkers to establish a c o u n te rh e g e m o n y over
civil society b efo re a tte m p tin g to c a p tu re state power. G ramsci too could
n o t resolve the prob lem atic position o f the in telle c tu a l/le a d e r in the p r o
cess: even if such individuals cast th e ir lot with the w orking class because
they viewed it as historically progressive, h e arg ued , they rem ain ed a u to n
o m ou s a n d th e ir loyalty was u n c e rta in .26
In th e V ienna ex p e rim e n t th e p ro b le m was n o t th e loyalty o f leaders b u t
th e cultural distance that se p a ra te d th e m fro m the ran k a n d file. This dis
tance re in fo rc e d th e paternalism o f leaders tow ard th e w orkers they h o p e d
to tra n sfo rm a n d liberate. T he ten den cy to infantilize is explicit a n d implicit
in the p re c o n c e p tio n s a b o u t th e w orkers which un derlay the diverse party
organizations a n d program s. P a ra m o u n t am o n g these was th e total de n i
g ratio n o f th e w ork ers existing subcultures. O n th e one han d , the workers
w ere viewed as aping the worst aspects o f petty bourgeois cultural form s a n d
aspirations. O n th e o th e r, they w ere re g a rd e d as uncivilized: disorderly,
undisciplined, a n d even b ru tish in th e ir daily lives. T o call this a very dis
to rte d im age is n o t to a rg ue that w o rk er sub cu ltu res w ere n o t weighed dow n
by a variety o f social a n d psychological deficits (alcoholism, p o o r hygiene,
male chauvinism, intrafam ily violence). But these w ere ju d g e d by the w ork
ers them selves to be outside th e pale o f respectability within th eir com
m unities.27
T h e V iennese working-class sub cu ltu res were com plex. N o d o u b t they
included featu res o f the d o m in a n t value system as well as aspects o f social
dissonance; bu t they w ere also enric h e d by com m unity stan dards an d n orm s
o f behavior c re a te d d u rin g m o re than two generatio n s o f u rb a n life. Far
from existing in a stale o f n a tu re , as th e socialists te n d e d to imply, th e w ork

Introduction

ers w ere disciplined a n d o b serv ed social codes, en g aged in h a rd w ork and


e x p e rie n c e d an all to o fre q u e n t delayed gratification o f basic needs m ade
necessary by a low sta n d a rd o f living. All these form s o f self-m anagem ent
im p a rte d a sense o f dignity that h e lp e d th e m co p e with the difficult circum
stances o f everyday life. T h e SDAP le a d e rs inability o r unwillingness to
ap p re c ia te existing su b cu ltu ral form s a n d netw orks partly stem m ed from
th e ir unfam iliarity with life at th e b o tto m . Such social blindness also served
th e ir ne e d to view the w o rk er as m alfo rm ed, o r at least u n fo rm e d , a n d th e re
fo re in n e e d o f a n d ready fo r the tran sfo rm atio n al p ro g ra m o ffered by the
party. F o r the socialist leaders to have given som e cred en ce to the positive
values o f indigenous w o rk er cu ltu res would have im plied a willingness to
negotiate, to a d a p t th e c ultural p ro je c t to them , and to replace paternalism
with m o re flexible form s o f org an ization a n d action.
T h e co m m a n d s tru c tu re o f socialist party c u ltu re was o f little use in deal
ing with fu n d a m e n ta l q uestions arising fro m the cultural work itself. Was all
o f b o urg eo is elite c u ltu re to be rejected, o r w ere the w orkers to be given
th e ir sh are o f what was c o n sid e re d a national heritage? In th e latte r case,
how w ere elite form s to be given a socialist in te rp re ta tio n in o r d e r to make
th e m a p p ro p ria te fo r working-class appreciation? A nd what was the h e ri
tage o f elite c u ltu re to which th e w orkers were entitled: th e classics, o r the
m o d e rn a n d avant-garde as well? W hose c an o n o f taste w ould be used to
make selections, o r was a consensus o f taste am o n g leaders presum ed? A nd
how could they sq u are th e circle o f d e n o u n c in g th e worldview o f the b o u r
geoisie while at th e sam e tim e e d u c a tin g w orkers to app re c ia te the historical
treasu res o f th at milieu?
H ow to deal with com m ercial a n d mass c u ltu re was even m o re p ro b le m
atic. F ro m the Gasthaus to the Variet, fro m radio a n d cinem a to spectato r
sports, these form s o f a m u se m e n t co m p e te d fo r the w ork ers leisure time.
T hey c ould n o t simply b e called trash o r kitsch a n d c o n d e m n e d o u t o f exis
tence, th o u g h such den u n ciatio n s w ere certainly m ade. A ttem pts to co m
p e te with mass c u ltu re o n its own term s failed fo r want o f finances an d
d ete rm in a tio n . T h e SDAP cu ltu ral e stab lish m en ts final effort took the form
o f an a tte m p t to e n n o b le mass cu ltu ral projects. U nfortunately, such
u p g ra d in g o f value m ainly consisted o f in tro d u c in g elem ents o f the clas
sic b ourgeois c u ltu re to th e new media. Virtually no on e in th e u p p e r ech
elons o f th e SDAP u n d e rs to o d these m edia o r con sid ered th em as anything
bu t d eg rad atio n s o f previous a rt fo rm s a n d conveyors o f a d ebased cu ltu re
in general. This inability to see rad io a n d film as new art form s, o r at least
as u n iq u e form s o f e n te rta in m e n t, was w idespread a m o n g intellectuals o u t
side the socialist cam p at th e tim e.28 B ut fo r th e socialists in p articular, e n te r
ta in m en t fo r its own sake a n d as a fo rm o f relaxation fo r th e w orkers was
rejected puritanically as incom patible with the p ro g ra m o f cultural uplift to
which th e ir tran sfo rm a tio n a l exp erim en t was com m itted.
T h e Viennese cu ltu ral ex p e rim e n t u n fo ld e d in a com plicated political and
econom ic climate. T h e SDAP had th e advantage1 o f not having to co m p ete

willi a significant ( '.ommunist party, as did the socialists in W eim ar G erm any
and in F ran ce d u rin g th e P o p u la r Fron t. T h e party was also firmly in con tro l
o f the m unicipal a n d provincial g ov ern m en t as a result o f its significant
m ajorities, allowing it to initiate p ro g ra m s which could n o t be c o n tro v e rte d
locally. T he SDAP a n d tra d e u n io n s to g e th e r co m m an d ed an extrem ely
large a n d loyal m em bership. But this num erical, electoral, and go vern
m ental stre n g th in V ienna was deceptive, fo r the national go vern m ent
re m a in e d firmly in th e han d s o f th eir political o p p o n e n ts, th e Christian
Social party a n d its allies. F ro m the b e g inn ing th e co u n try was divided into
two cam ps-Vienna a n d scatte re d industrial enclaves against th e largely
a g rarian a n d C atholic provinces whose hostility was not simply political.
It ex p ressed itself in h ate m o n g e rin g by th e Catholic ch u rch , th e far-from silent p a r tn e r o f political reaction, fo r w hom socialism was th e A ntichrist.29
T h e state was n o t th e n eu tral, rep u b lic a n fo u n d a tio n the socialists imag
ined it to be, b u t an in stru m e n t o f th e ir increasingly a n tirep u blican o p p o
n ents. T h e socialists b elief was shaken w hen politically fru stra te d masses in
V ienna sto rm e d the Palace o f Ju stice o n Ju ly 15, 1927, a n d set it ablaze; the
police fired p o int-blank into th e crowds, leaving eight-five w orkers dead.
T h ese events r e p re s e n te d a tu rn in g p o in t in the fate o f the republic. They
also signaled a shift in th e SD A Ps cu ltu ral p rog ram : earlier it h a d b e e n an
in stru m e n t in the class struggle; now it increasingly becam e a su rro g a te fo r
politics, th e a re n a o f which shifted fro m electoral contests to force a n d vio
lence in th e streets.30
E conom ic co nditions in postw ar A ustria w ere far fro m e n c o u ra g in g for
social a n d c u ltu ral p ro g ram s.31 T he fra g m e n te d econom y o f th e small state
c re a te d a sense o f c on tin u al instability. U nem ploym ent was extrem ely high
even in th e p e rio d o f recovery (1 9 2 5 -3 0 ) a n d soared d u rin g th e depression,
affecting o n e th ird o f the la b o r force by 1933.32 It would n o t be an exag
g e ra tio n to say that d u rin g m ost o f th e re p u b lic s fifteen years a significant
section o f th e w orking class lived o n th e ed g e o f poverty. N e ith e r th e SDAP
n o r th e tra d e u n io n s fo u n d the m eans to alter th at h arsh econom ic reality.
B oth w ere largely reactive to capitalist p ressu res to intensify p ro d u c tio n an d
k eep wages fro m increasing in real term s. T he staggering decline o f over 40
p e rc e n t in tra d e u n io n m em b ersh ip was indicative o f the weakness o f the
p arty a n d th e tra d e u n ion s in this c o n te ste d te rra in .33 Small w o n d er th at the
w orkplace, so c entral to th e everyday life o f w orkers, was largely left o u t o f
th e socialists cultural program s.
T h e A u strian socialists cultural e x p e rim e n t offers an excellent d e m o n s tra
tion o f the re latio n sh ip betw een the m u ch-so u gh t-after p ro letarian culture,
a n d th e elite a n d su bcu ltu ral form s it a tte m p te d to eradicate fro m th e lives
o f w orkers. It exposes all the limitations o f such a quest, arising fro m a
paternalistic le ad ership tied to in h e rite d values, th e com plexity a n d resist
ance to ch an g e o f w ork er life-styles, a n d th e seductive com p etition o f com
mercial a n d m ass-culture leisure activities. T h o u g h fra g m e n te d a n d falling
sh o rt o f p e rm e a tin g th e w o rk ers public a n d private sphere, the experi-

m e m 's real accom plishm ents acted as a pow erful symbolic force far g re a te r
than th e sum o f its achievem ents. It signaled stren g th a n d a ccord ed dignity,
.1sense o f w orth , a n d confiden ce to the w orkers, because r e d V ienna was
som ehow theirs. As I shall d e m o n stra te , this symbolic stren g th was also
deceptive, in th at th e cu ltu ral p ro g ra m a tte m p te d to com pen sate fo r the
w ork ers econom ic d e p riv ation a n d th e increasing political powerlessness o f
the SDAP a fte r 1927. T h us the V iennese ex p e rim e n t p resen ts itself as a
m odel fo r studying the dynamics o f com prehensive p rojects involving cul
tural tra n sfo rm a tio n . As such it offers a striking image o f idealist intentions,
p re se n ts som e significant accom plishm ents, reflects th e inevitable c o n tra
dictions resultin g fro m actual practice, a n d carries so m b e r warnings about
the d a n g e r o f sub stitu tin g the symbolic fo r the real.
W hat follows is clearly an in te rp re ta tio n r a th e r th a n a com prehensive
history o f th e subject. This study seeks to exam ine the m ajo r co m p o n en ts
o f the SD A P s c u ltu ral p ro ject in V ienna, fro m the reform s o f m unicipal
socialism to the am bitious goals o f party culture, to u ch in g o n the la tte rs
relatio n ship to elite, com m ercial, a n d mass c u ltu re as well as to the w orkers
dom estic world. A secondary goal o f this study is to utilize th e experiences
in the V iennese la b o ra to ry to raise m o re general questions a b o u t efforts
to fashion a n d im p le m e n t co m prehensive cu ltu res fro m above. Failed
a tte m p ts in various co u n trie s d u rin g the past forty-five years make it all the
m o re in trig u in g to lay b a re a n d assess th e V iennese m odel, developed with
the best motives a n d th e highest ideals.

CHAPTER 2

Vienna as Socialist Laboratory

Since th e pub lication o f Carl S chorskes Fin-de-siecle Vienna in 1980, V ienna


has c o n ju re d u p images o f m od e rn ism in a setting o f d e c a d e n c e .1T h e book
has stim ulated g reat in terest in the high cu ltu re a n d politics o f th e m ulti
natio nal capital. Its pow erful evocation o f the intellectual a n d artistic cli
m ate, in which F re u d , Schnitzler a n d Flofm annsthal, L u eg er a n d Herzl,
Klimt a n d Kokoschka, a n d W ag n er a n d S c h n b e rg reflected and challenged
a very special b ou rg eo is c ulture, u n fo rtu n a te ly also has becom e an obstacle
to seeing V ien na as a thriving m etro po lis in which social, political, and cul
tu ral e x p e rim e n ts o f g reat scope a n d originality were a tte m p te d in the
p e rio d following the belle p o q u e . T h e V ienna o f Schorskes m aking is like
a C hirico p a in tin g symbolic a n d fro zen in tim e a n d space. T he golden age
o f high c u ltu re he re-creates so artfully does n o t a p p e a r to have ro o ts or
re so n a n c e in the com plex e x p erien ce o f two million Viennese a n d th e re fo re
seems to b e a d e a d end. In d e e d , B ildung a n d c u ltu re as a substitute fo r pol
itics a m o n g th e bourgeoisie com e to an e n d in the rep u blican V ienna em erg
ing a fte r 1918.
B ut the ability o f th e city to h a r b o r ex p erim en ts o f in ternatio nal im p o r
tance co n tin u e d . T h e org an ized w orking class, incub atin g d u rin g the belle
p o q u e , e m e rg e d as a pow erful fo rce which u n d e r the leadership o f the
Socialist p arty (SDAP) a tte m p te d to tra n s fo rm A ustrian society. T h e social
ists e x p e rim e n t c o n c e n tra te d o n V ienna, w here it e n c o u n te re d a n d c o n
f ro n te d all aspects o f postw ar tu rb u le n c e in seeking new ways to survive.
T h e re are few c o n n ectio ns b etw een th e herm etically sealed w orld o f b o u r
geois high c u ltu re Schorske has d e p ic te d an d th e re d V ienn a the socialists
so u g h t to c re a te betw een elite a n d p o p u la r experiences a n d expectations
o f the g o o d life. T h e re is on e in terestin g parallel which needs to be m en
tio n ed now a n d e x p lo re d later: c u ltu re f o r the fin-de-sicle bourgeoisie was
a su rro g a te fo r th e politics from which it was excluded; the creatio n o f a
p ro le ta ria n c o u n te rc u ltu re becam e p a ra m o u n t fo r ihe socialists, because
they were un a b le to shift the balance in the national political a re n a in their
favor.

Vienna as Socialist Laboratory

13

My c o n c e rn in this c h a p te r is with V ienna as city: o n e o f th e fo u r p rin


cipal m etropolises o f E u ro p e ,2 ex perien cing a critical tran sfo rm atio n at the
e n d o f a lost war a n d collapsed old regime. In Die freudlose Gasse, G. W.
P a b sts brilliant film o f 1925, postw ar V ienna is p o rtra y e d with an un var
n ish ed realism as a city in crisis: inflation is ra m p a n t; to u g h pro fiteers lord
it over a declassed bourgeoisie; the p o o r h u n g e r to satisfy their m ost basic
wants; a n d a m oral decay hangs heavily over all.3 This is b u t o n e o f th e many
realities o f postw ar Vienna. My aim is to th ro w a brief, sh arp light on the
many others: revolutionary fe rm e n t a n d rep ub lican refo rm ; G erm ans, Jews,
Czechs, a n d others; domiciles, workplaces, a n d in frastructu res; th e new
s ta te s u n c e rta in viability; political cam ps and trad e u n io n loyalties; titles,
parades, unifo rm s, h atred s, a n d o th e r residues o f the old regime; the C a th
olic ch u rch , anti-Semitism, a n d G erm anic Christianity; th e identity o f the
Viennese; a n d psychological shocks to the m e tro p o lita n ego caused by the
citys newly dim inished status as a capital o f alpine yokels. Like a film cam era
p a n n in g across an u rb a n landscape, I h o p e to illum inate a g reat n u m b e r o f
th e in g red ien ts which c o n stitu te d V ienna in fe rm e n t fro m 1919 to 1921
th e p e rio d d u rin g which th e stage was set f o r the p e rfo rm a n c e o f the social
ists cu ltu ral e x p e rim e n t.4
H opefully, such a kaleidoscopic p re se n ta tio n o f V iennese realities will
n o t o b scu re the serious pro b lem s e x p erien ced by V ien n as citizens. It will
be instructive to list these, so as to a p preciate the actual challenges facing
th e socialists as practical politicians. F ro m th eir c o m m an d in g position in the
municipality, th e socialists dedicated themselves to solving these with
refo rm s which b ecam e the fo u n d a tio n o f th eir effort to create a pro letarian
c o u n te rc u ltu re . In b o th th eir m unicipal refo rm s a n d their larger cultural
aspirations th e socialists claim ed to be gu id ed by A ustrom arxism . In review
ing th e m ain tenets o f this th eo ry it will be interesting to see w h e th e r it was
a ttu n e d b o th to th e situation o f V ienna d u rin g this painful postw ar transi
tion, a n d to the com prehensive cultural p ro je c t o n which the socialists were
em barking.

V ien n a, 1 9 1 9 -1 9 2 1 : A M on tage
T h e repu b lic o f A ustria, with V ienna rem ain ing as capital, was finally p ro
claim ed o n N ov em b er 12, 1918.5 T h e re was little enthusiasm fo r th e new
republic. T he C hristian Social a n d Pan-G erm an parties had only shortly
b efo re declared themselves com m itted to m onarchy; the SDAP hesitated.
All th re e conceived o f the new state as being G erm an A ustria. The
E n te n te powers p re p a rin g f o r a C arthag inian p ea c e in Paris had insisted
o n the c o n to u rs o f the republic u n d e r the simple nam e A ustria. N o n e o f
the political forces re p re s e n te d by the Provisional Assembly m eeting in
V ienna w ere satisfied with the m inuscule state, pasted to g e th e r from the
leavings of a d ism em bered m onarchy: the C hristian Socials favored a central
E u ro p ean e m p ire u n d e r H a b sb u rg leadership; the left socialists as well as

T h e Dual M onarchy o f A ustria-H u ng ary in 1914 a n d the A ustrian republic o f 1920

Vienna as Socialist Laboratory

15

the P an -G erm an s d e m a n d e d Anschluss with G erm any (though fo r opposite


reasons); a n d th e socialist lead er Karl R e n n e r d re a m e d o f a D anubian
c o n fe d e ra tio n .6
But th e E n te n te pow ers h a d o th e r plans fo r th e re c o n stru c tio n o f cen
tral E u ro p e a n d these did n o t include e ith e r a G erm any e n larged by Aus
trian an ne x a tio n o r th e re-creatio n o f a m ultinational o p e re tta m onarchy.
N o d o u b t the Provisional Assembly, aw are o f this reality a n d faced with
E m p e ro r K arls a p p a re n t abdication o n N ov em b er 11, was fo rced to p r o
claim the republic, fo r which n o n e o f the political players was very e a g e r.7
W ith tens o f th ou san ds o f soldiers r e tu rn in g o r at least crisscrossing V ienna
a n d th e provinces, m any o f w hom h a d e x p erien ced the Russian Revolution
at first h and , a rep ub lic based o n a co nstitu tio n was a far lesser evil for the
politicos g a th e re d in V ienna than the anarchy o r revolution c o n ju re d u p by
angry, fru stra te d , a n d d e m a n d in g soldiers o p e ra tin g in a p ow er vacuum .8
W hat a b o u t V ienna in these m o n th s following the e n d o f th e war, d u rin g
which political form alism g r o u n d o u t a republican solution? T he much-cele b ra te d , jo y o u s musical capital o f 2.1 million, setting th e to n e in an em pire
o f 52 million p e o p le o f a sso rted nationalities, was no m ore. V ienna em erged
fro m w artim e with only 1.8 million in habitants in a newly c rafted state o f
6.4 million. In th e im m ediate postw ar m on ths th e city still h a rb o re d many
dem obilized soldiers o f th e new succession states in transit to th eir hom es
a n d still re ta in e d som e o f its p rew ar flavor o f ethnic diversity. T hese tra n
sients w ere rep laced by civil servants o f the old regim e displaced persons
r e tu rn in g fro m all the c o rn e rs o f the old em pire. They h a d n o g reat im pact
o n th e c h a ra c te r o f the V iennese p o p u latio n . O nly two significant m inorities
re m a in e d in V ienna by 1921: a b o u t 120,000 to 150,000 Czechs (about 6
8% o f the p o pu lation ) a n d a little over 20 0 ,0 00 Jew s (about 10.8% o f the
p o p u latio n ).9
Physically V ien n as u rb a n landscape rem ained m u ch the same as it had
b een b e fo re the war. Betw een 1890 a n d 1904 m ost o f th e su bu rbs h a d been
in c o rp o ra te d into th e city, with a grad ual e xtension o f th e in fra stru c tu re to
all tw enty-one d istricts.10 But w hereas it h a d b e e n situ ated in th e c e n te r o f
l he fo rm e r m onarchy, it now virtually m arked the b o u n d a ry with Czecho
slovakia to the n o rth e a st a n d with H u n g a ry to th e southeast. T h e w estern
reaches o f V ienna, including the V ienna W oods, extensive vineyards, an d
countless small g ard en plots, h um anized th e city a n d som ew hat disguised its
com m ercial, financial, a n d industrial character. A lth o ug h V ienna had
b ecom e a m o d e rn industrial m etropolis b e fo re th e war, with the exception
o f the electrical industry, light form s o f m a n u fa c tu rin g (clothing, p ap er,
comestibles, a n d graphics) p re d o m in a te d . N onetheless, by 1913 som e six
teen industrial plants em ployed m o re th a n o n e th o u sa n d w orkers e a c h .11 By
(he e n d o f 1919, how ever, a decline in tra d e with the succession states, the
e n d o f w ar p ro d u c tio n , a n d a grave sh o rtage o f coal closed h a lf o f these
large p la n ts.12
T h e political u n c e rta in ty cre a te d by th e collapse o f the m onarchy an d
the less-than-enthusiastic proclam atio n o f the R epublic was e x acerb ated by

16

Red Vienna

th e displacem en t o f w om en fro m the lab or fo rc e ,13 r e tu rn in g soldiers, the


grow ing n u m b e r o f hom eless caused by the critical hou sin g shortage, an d
the a p p e a ra n c e o f refugees fro m the f o u r co rn ers o f the fo rm e r m onarchy,
who jo in e d the already existing h o rd e s o f p an h an d lers a n d beggars, indi
g e n t a n d unem p loy ed. M ost visible a m o n g these in long black coats
(kapottes) a n d b ro a d -b rim m e d black hats were Jews who h a d fled from
Galicia d u r in g th e war. A lth ou g h th e total n u m b e r o f these Jew ish refugees
did n o t exceed 25,00 0 by 1919, th e ir presence in V ienna was exaggerated
in th e u p su rg e o f an already well-established anti-Sem itism .14
T o these sources o f social tension m ust be a d d e d th e hardships o f the
V iennese p o p u latio n , w earied by f o u r years o f w artim e privations, in finding
the f o o d a n d fuel necessary fo r daily existence.15 T h e sense o f insecurity an d
crisis a m o n g th e V iennese was increased d u rin g th e first peacetim e w inter
by an epidem ic o f the Spanish g rip p e which killed thousands. O th e r, less
sensational illnesses a b o u n d e d a m o n g the Viennese. P ro stitu tio n a n d co n
com itan t venereal disease h a d increased markedly d u rin g the war a n d c o n
tin u e d at a high level d u rin g th e first peacetim e years. Most th re a te n in g
because m ost c o n stan t was tuberculosis, called the V iennese disease,
which a c c o u n te d fo r o n e -q u a rte r o f all death s in th e city, a n d nearly h alf in
working-class n e ig h b o rh o o d s .16
D espite th e p ro clam atio n o f th e republic on N ovem ber 12, 1918, fol
lowed by elections a n d the creatio n o f a coalition g ov ern m en t by th e SDAP
a n d C hristian Socials in F e b ru a ry 1919, a political vacuum co n tin u e d to
th re a te n th e new repu b lic until the e n d o f th at year. A ustria was not
involved in a parliam entary o r constitutional revolution, as has frequently
be e n su g g e ste d .17 It faced a real revolution at the h an d s o f soldiers an d
w orkers councils, influenced by th e revolutionary soviet m odels in Bavaria
a n d H u n gary. T h e socialists clearly did n o t w ant th a t kind o f revolution, so
heavily in flu en ced by th e Bolshevik exam ple, a n d very adroitly o u tm an eu v ered th e revolutionary e lem en t a m o n g the w orkers in th e councils th e m
selves.18 A ltho u gh the socialists m aste re d the th re a t from the left in the
sp rin g a n d su m m e r o f 1919, they n e ith e r fully exploited this th re a t to
stre n g th e n th e ir own political position in relation to the Christian Socials,
n o r u se d it to carry o u t far-reach ing refo rm s to secularize a n d securely
establish th e rep u b lic a n fo rm o f th e state. T hus th e socialists retrospective
re fe re n c e to the events o f 1 9 1 8 - 1 9 as a revolution was a d a n g e ro u s delusion
a b o u t th e p ow er relations in A ustria. T hese had n o t b een alte re d sufficiently
to m ake th e rep ub lic secure.
T o w hat e x te n t was V ienna a w o rk ers city observable in real a n d sym
bolic fo rm s in its workaday, public, a n d private life? Already, by 1914, 70
p e rc e n t o f all wage e a rn e rs w ere w orkers o f w hom four-fifths toiled in work
shops a n d one-fifth in ind ustry p ro p e r. By 1919, the n u m b e r an d p r o p o r
tion o f m iddle-sized industrial plants h ad increased, at the e x pense o f small
w orkshops r e n d e re d o bsolete d u r in g w artim e.19 I f th e oldest historical parts
o f th e in n e r city were identified with the nobility, a n d the elegant Ringstras.se bou lev ard with the affluent bourgeoisie, an o u te r belt o f linked

W o rk e r c o n c e n tra tio n in V ienna, 1921

18

Red Vienna

avenues, the G rtel, a n d its n u m e ro u s side streets h a rb o re d the tenem ents


(Zinskasemen) hou sin g V iennese w orkers. In the early p erio d o f industriali
zation, w orkers arriving in V ienna fro m B ohem ia o r Galicia frequently had
settled in existing ethnic enclaves: Czechs, fo r instance, in th e 10th, 16th,
a n d 2 0 th districts, a n d Jews in the 2 n d .20
T h e location o f larg er factories in th e outlying new er districts an d n e a r
railway stations a n d yards, as well as th e absence o f an a d e q u a te tra n sp o r
tatio n system, led to th e grow th o f w ork er settlem ents in proxim ity to the
new plants. No m a tte r w h eth er closer (Leopoldstadt) o r fa rth e r (Florids
d o rf) fro m th e city c en ter, w o rker n e ig h b o rh o o d s w ere easily recognizable
by the dreariness a n d dirtiness o f th e streets, th e decaying faades o f the
te n e m e n ts with b e d linens airing on th e windowsills, the children at play in
th e streets o r in em pty lots, the shoddy display in local shops, a n d th e p res
en ce o f paw nshops an d smoke-filled, crudely fu rn ish ed Gasthuser,21
T h ro u g h o u t 1919 a n d into 1920, V iennese w orkers eng ag ed in street
actions p ro te stin g fo od a n d ho usin g shortages an d high prices, which fre
quen tly led to violence. N o d o u b t som e o f these incidents stem m ed from
initiatives o f soldiers a n d w orkers councils a n d th e ir leaders.22 But a good
n u m b e r w ere sp o n ta n e o u s acts o f fru stra tio n o n th e p a rt o f a working p o p
ulation which h a d b o rn e th e hard sh ips o f war (on b o th th e battlefield and
th e h o m e front) a n d c o n tin u e d to e x p erien ce privation, fo od a n d fuel sh o rt
ages, speculation, overcrow ding, a n d th e m o u n tin g p ressu re o f an inflation
th a t re a c h e d astronom ic a n d inco m p reh en sib le dim ensions.23 Such fru stra
tion over real grievances fo od prices o r h o u sin g n e e d s also led to the
w recking a n d loo tin g o f shops a n d cafs in the in n e r city, w here the archi
tec tu ra l m o n u m e n ts o f traditional p o w er the goal o f direct actions were
located. It sh ou ld surprise n o o n e th a t the V iennese m iddle class and its

Demobilized soldiers in 1919, a source o f both the soldiers councils and the
Volkswehr (Verein fr Geschichte d er Arbeiterbewegung [VGA])

Vienna as Socialist Laboratory

19

Organized workers dem onstration. The bann er proclaims: Long Live the
International World Revolution. (VGA)

political spokesm en viewed these violent o u tb u rsts as the e n d o f civilization


a n d the p re lu d e to A rm ag ed d o n . They had n o t yet assimilated the collapse
o f the old regim e; they could n o t c o m p re h e n d o r accept the fact that the
lower o rd e rs h a d shaken o ff the previous invisible b on d s o f auth ority suffi
ciently to rise u p in a n g e r a n d d esp eratio n . T he massive strike waves in Jan
uary 1918 a n d following th e mutiny o f A ustrian sailors at C attaro that J u n e
were political as well as econom ic a n d signaled a new militancy and
co nfiden ce.24
It is rem arkable that the socialists also should have viewed with suspicion
the w orkers newly discovered ability to act in th eir own interest en masse.
No d o u b t th e socialists fe a re d that th e w orkers would be swayed by com
m unists in th e w o rkers a n d soldiers councils to u n d e rta k e reckless actions,
o r th a t th e revolutionary lan o f the Bavarian o r H u n g a ria n Soviet R ep u b
lics would spill o ver in to A ustria, leading the w orkers in a d a n g e ro u s radical
d ire c tio n .25 T o forestall such eventualities, th e SDAP assum ed a tight rein
o ver th e councils a n d at the same tim e u sed th e Volkswehr, the newly estab
lished v o lu n te e r arm y u n d e r decisive socialist influence if no t o utrig h t c o n
trol, to keep stre e t politics in check with calibrated m easures o f fo rce.21
It is a sign o f the u n ce rta in ty o f those postw ar years that the socialists
o verre a c te d to sp o n ta n e o u s e xpressions o f w orker militancy. T h e im pact o f
th e Bolshevik R evolution on A ustrian w orkers was considerable, especially
in Vienna, w here firsthand acco u nts enjoyed cu rren cy in the w o rkers and
soldiers' councils. It is also clear that n o person ol p rom in e n c e in the SDAl

20

Red Vienna

w anted to follow in th e Russian Bolsheviks footsteps.27 Friedrich Alder,


who enjoyed th e greatest p opularity a m o n g Viennese w orkers at the time,
succeeded in neu tralizin g the newly fo rm e d C om m unist party (N ovem ber
1918) by p ersu a d in g it to jo in th e national organ izatio n o f w ork ers co u n
cils. In this p arliam en t o f the w orking class the com m unists were o u tn u m
b e re d a n d o u tv o ted, an d th eir plans fo r a soviet republic foiled.28 L eaders
o f the SDAP fro m R e n n e r to B auer te n d e d to view p ressu re fro m below, n o
m a tte r how im m ediately a n d practically re la te d to th e tu rb u le n c e o f the
m o m ent, as e n d a n g e rin g plans m ade a n d initiatives taken at the to p o f the
party.
A crisis in th e relationship b etw een leaders a n d masses aro se fro m the
fact th at the leaders had b e e n com pletely overw helm ed by the imperial col
lapse. T h e re h a d b een n o p re p a ra tio n fo r such an eventuality: n o discussion
o f rep u b lican versus o th e r political form s; n o consid eratio n o f p o p u la r p a r
ticipation; n o a g en d a o f practical m easures fo r the tra n sfo rm a tio n tow ard
socialism. T h e socialist le a d e rs decisions in those crucial years w ere im p ro
vised w itho u t real discussion o r d e b a te a t th e grass roots. O nly later did
party theoreticians like B au er provide th eoretical respectability to acts o f
crisis m an a g e m e n t.29 N o n e o f th e p ro m in e n t socialists at th e tim e seem ed to
be tro u b le d by th eir oligarchical p a rty s increasing unresponsiveness to the
rank an d file, even th o u g h they m ade a p o in t o f distinguishing th e ir innerparty dem ocracy fro m the Bolsheviks d ictatorship. T h e m o re th e SD A Ps
p ro g ra m s te e re d away fro m th e Bolshevik revolutionary exam ple, the m ore
the party resem b led its leadership s tru c tu re a n d its belief in the necessity o f
totally shapin g a n d c o n tro llin g the ra n k a n d file.30
T h e socialist leaders did n o t ap p re c ia te the high level o f organization
a n d discipline o f th e V iennese a n d A ustrian workers. T h e d a n g e r to working-class interests did n o t lie in th e ir ra re anarchic o u tb u rsts b u t in their
excessive re gim en tatio n , a d h e re n c e to form al stru ctu res, a n d conform ism
to ro u tin es a n d em pty rituals. By 1920, 4 5 8,63 5 V iennese w orkers were
dues-paying m em b ers o f the (socialist) Free T ra d e Unions, re p re se n tin g
roughly 50 p e rc e n t o f th e total A ustrian m em b ersh ip.31 A lthough th e size
o f V iennese m em b ersh ip in th e SDAP was less spectacular, having reach ed
188,379 o r a b o u t 38 p e rc e n t o f national m em b ership by 1921, it grew ra p
idly to 4 1 8 ,0 0 0 o r a b o u t 58 p e rc e n t o f national m em b ership by 1929.32 The
social co m position o f th e V iennese SDAP was u n u su al in two respects: in
1921 w om en m em b ers a c c o u n te d fo r 26 p e rc e n t o f the total, rising to 36
p e rc e n t by 1929; th e n u m b e r o f y o u n g e r m em bers, fro m twenty to forty
years o f age, w ere o v e rre p re s e n te d in th e party in com p ariso n to the age
distribu tio n o f the p o p u la tio n .33 T h a t th e SDAP triu m p h e d in the municipal
elections o f 1919 with 54 p e rc e n t o f th e vote, th ereb y p ro d u c in g the first
socialist m ayor o f a m etropolis (Jakob R eum ann) a n d creatin g th e political
fo u n d atio n s fo r re d V ienna, should be a ttrib u te d n o t only to the large trade
u n io n a n d significant socialist party m em bersh ip, bu t also to the positive
reso n an ce o f th e socialists appeal fo r ren ov atio n a n d re fo rm in the lower
middle class a n d a m o n g professionals.34

Vienna as Socialist Laboratory

21

A lth o ug h the m unicipal council election o f May 1919 h a d d e m o n stra te d


the socialists im m ediate a n d even long-range p ow er in V ienna, the election
f o r the C o n stitu e n t Assembly in F eb ru ary o f th at year did n o t p e rm it such
an optim istic re a d in g o f the results. T o be sure, the SDAP had polled 40.76
p e rc e n t o f th e national vote a n d o b tained 43.4 p e rc e n t o f the seats in the
Assembly.35 But th e C hristian Social a n d P an -G erm an parties had polled
3 5.93 a n d 18.36 p e rc e n t o f the vote respectively a n d to g e th e r c a p tu re d
54.7 p e rc e n t o f th e Assembly seats. Lacking a m ajority, the socialists were
fo rc e d to go into coalition with th e C hristian Socials. T h e SDAP held the
key positions o f ch an cello r (R enner), foreign m inister (Bauer), a n d war m in
ister (Deutsch) partly because they w ere the d o m in a n t party in the legisla
tu re a n d partly b ecau se th re a ts o f revolution fro m below d u rin g the spring
a n d su m m e r o f 1919 p u t th e conservative parties o n the defensive. But their
timidity was short-lived. T h e fall o f Bela K u n s H u n g a ria n Soviet R epublic
o n A ugust 1, following th e failure o f a com m unist-inspired pu tsch in V ienna
o n J u n e 15, m ark ed th e beg inn ing o f a to u g h e r stance o n the p a rt o f C hris
tian Socials a n d Pan-G erm ans. In the parliam entary elections o f 1920 and
1921 th e socialists lost b o th votes a n d m andates, leveling off at a b o u t 40
p e rc e n t fo r b o th .36 T h e socialists refu sed to r e a d these results with anything
b u t ro se-colo red glasses a n d c o n tin u e d to n u r tu r e the h o p e that a parlia
m en tary m ajority c o uld be attained.
In the m o n th s o f g reatest political uncertainty, when th e Viennese
Brger was m ost anxious a b o u t a possible Bolshevik A ustria, the SDAP
im provised a n d p u s h e d th ro u g h a series o f refo rm s in te n d e d to a n c h o r the
re p ub lic a n d to lay th e g ro u n d w o rk fo r a socialist tran sform atio n. F u n d a
m ental to th e creatio n a n d fu n c tio n in g o f th e republic was the electoral law
o f 1918, which e n fran ch ised adu lt m en a n d w om en w ithout con d ition s.37
Econom ic legislation passed by the first coalition g ov ern m ent included
u n em p lo y m en t a n d sickness insurance, restrictions on female a n d child
labor, a n d the e ig h t-h o u r day.38 T h e la tte r was offset by th e increase o f work
te m p o in tro d u c e d by productivity-m inded scientific m an ag em en t in the
la rg e r plan ts.39 Two fu r th e r laws w ere m o re daring. T h e first provided for
p aid vacations f o r w orkers a n d employees: o n e week fo r those who had
w orked continuously fo r a year, a n d two weeks fo r those with five years o f
c o n tin u o u s labor. T h e second established the C h a m b e r o f W orkers and
Employees, with the fu n ctio n o f overseeing collective contracts betw een
tra d e u n io n s a n d em ployers, supervising th e e x ecu tio n o f lab or laws, and
advising the national legislature o n lab o r legislation.40
By fa r th e m ost radical a n d innovative piece o f la b o r legislation estab
lished so-called factory councils, which o n the face o f it resem bled in stru
m ents o f c o d e te rm in a tio n o r industrial dem ocracy at the workplace. A less
positive view o f the factory councils might re g a rd th e m as in stru m en ts o f
w ork er pacification devised by the SDAP a n d socialist tra d e un ion s to
replace the politically highly c h arg ed a n d u n pre d ic ta b le w orkers councils.
H ow ever o n e m ight in te rp re t the in te n d e d function o f these councils, they
w ere an intrinsic p a rt o f th e p ro je c t to socialize th e A ustrian econom y.41

22

Red Vienna

P u ttin g th e p ro du ctive processes in the han d s o f the p ro d u c e rs themselves


h a d long be e n a c o rn e rsto n e o f M arxist socialism. But as so o fte n hap p en s
with pillars o f theory, the idea re m a in e d u n d e v e lo p e d in th e p re w a r w orker
parties fo r w hom the issue was a d istan t o n e at best.
W h en th e SDAP was suddenly c o n fro n te d with the possibility o f some
fo rm o f socialization early in 1919, th e re was n o c o n c re te plan to fall back
on. Even B auer, w ho by th e n h a d e m e rg e d as the p a rty s spokesm an o n th e
ory, sketched a p ro g ra m lacking in practical details. H e foresaw a long tra n
sition fro m private to public ow nership, beg in n in g with the prim ary eco
nom ic secto r a n d en d in g with th e socialization o f the banks. E xp rop riatio n
was to be accom plished with full co m pensation; socialized e nterprises were
to b e m a nag ed by a triad o f tra d e unions, consum ers, a n d the state. In p r o
je c tin g th e fu tu re m a n a g e m e n t o f th e econom y, B auer assigned th e task o f
p re p a rin g th e w orkers fo r th eir responsibility to th e factory councils. His
ideas p ro v e d to o grandiose a n d schem atic to have any im pact o n th e Social
ization C om m ission over which h e p resid ed in the sp rin g a n d sum m er o f
1919.42 W h en the th re a t o f revolutionary co ntagion fro m Bavaria a n d H u n
gary e n d e d , th e C om m ission fa d e d away w ith ou t having m ade the smallest
chan g es.43
N o d o u b t th e piecem eal refo rm s o f 1919 h e lp e d im prove the quality o f
th e w o rk e rs lives; at the same tim e they failed to establish th e basis fo r a
m o re e x te n d e d socialist ex p erim en t. T h e d o o r to th e latte r was o p e n e d by
the fu n d a m e n ta l recasting o f th e legal political stan d in g o f V ienna itself.
Even b e fo re th e w ar the socialists in th e city h a d expressed a desire to sep
a ra te it politically fro m th e province o f L ow er A ustria in o r d e r to provide a
ju s t re p re se n ta tio n fo r V iennese w orkers.44 By 1920 this socialist goal was
virtually accom plished, with V ienna achieving the status o f capital o f the
repu b lic a n d se p a ra te province.45 H e n c e fo rth the socialist m ajority in b o th
the m unicipal a n d provincial V iennese g o v ern m ent was in a position to co m
m a n d the p o w e r o f local tax atio n a n d use it in developing a p ro g ra m o f
m unicipal socialism.46 By shifting th e fo rm o f taxes fro m indirect to direct,
fro m necessities to luxuries, a n d by in tro d u c in g a g ra d u a te d scale that
favo red wage ea rn e rs, the socialists c re a te d a source o f rev en ue fo r public
p ro je c ts truly u n iq u e at th e tim e.47
Less a p p a re n t th a n th e special pow ers o f taxation fo r the socialists p r o
je c t o f m unicipal re fo rm was th e c o n ju n c tio n o f a p rew ar m unicipal rentc o n tro l law with the postw ar runaw ay inflation. Until 1918 V iennese work
ers, a n d to a lesser e x te n t petty bourgeois, had b e e n at the m ercy o f
land lord s, w ho w ere p e rm itte d by th e to le ra n t Christian Social municipal
a d m in istratio n to raise re n ts arbitrarily, to refuse to make even basic
repairs, a n d to evict at will.48 We will look m o re closely at th e condition o f
w ork er te n e m e n ts in th e next ch ap ter. Suffice it to say h e re that horrible
overcrow ding, bro u g h t o n by the financial reliance o n su b te n a n ts a n d bed
re n te rs, as well as a kind o f no m ad ism an ann u al o r even sem iannual
forced change o f dom icile c h aracterized life in working-class n e ig h b o r
hoods. In 10 18, as the w ar was w inding dow n, an em ergency law seeking to

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forestall social u n re s t set limits o n r e n t increases a n d eviction notices fo r


b o th a p a rtm e n ts a n d com m ercial establishm ents. T h e first coalition govern
m e n t o f 1919 con firm ed the law.
In th e c o n tex t o f 1918 this law had been far fro m radical. It had d o n e
n o m o re th a n p ro te c t ten an ts fro m the w orst excesses by landlords (rapa
cious increases a n d arb itrary evictions). It h a d failed to lower ren ts o r alter
th e ir p r o p o rtio n o f w orker o r em ployee wages (between o n e -q u a rte r and
one-third). But the postw ar inflation virtually w iped o u t the ren ts stabilized
by th e co n tro l law, which had m ade provision fo r only minimal increases fo r
m ain te n a n c e o f p ro p erties. This a b e rra n t legislation cre a te d a windfall for
V ie n n a s workers, whose re n t declined to 3 fro m 7 p e rc e n t o f th eir wages.4
W o rk e r families could look fo rw ard to m o re stable living a rran g em en ts and
n o lo n g e r n e e d e d su b te n a n ts a n d bed r e n te rs to help m eet the m onthly pay
m ents. T h e su b te n a n ts a n d b e d ren ters, however, fo u n d themselves tu rn e d
a d rift to face a grim h o u sin g shortage fo r which n o im m ediate relief was at
h and . T h e r e n t-c o n tro l law becam e a bastion fo r the SDAP as well as a p rin
cipal subject o f struggle with th e C hristian Social camp. It also c reated one
o f those ra re instances in which lower-middle-class re n te rs a n d businessm en
fo u n d themselves allied w ith th e SDAP a n d the w orkers it represented.
F ro m N ov em ber 1918 until the su m m e r o f 1920 the a tm o sp h ere in
V ienna was o n e o f turm oil a n d change. Socialist broom s, it a p p eared , were
sw eeping o u t the old o r d e r a n d taking m easures to safeguard the new
republic against desires fo r re sto ra tio n o n th e right a n d Bolshevizing p res
sures on the left. O tto B au er was n o t alone in calling the transition from
m o n archy to republic a re v olu tio n.50 I f o n e accepts his characterization for
the sake o f a rg u m e n t, o n e w ould have to a p p e n d th e reservation that rev
olutions leave large aspects o f society, life, a n d values u nto u c h e d .
In looking at V ienna with th at caveat in m ind, o n e finds the republican
m o o d fo r change te m p e re d by atavistic rem ains o f th e old regim e in the
form o f hierarchy, paternalism , a n d authoritarianism . Aristocractic titles
n o t only th e prefix v o n b u t also B aron, G raf, Fiirst, H e rz o g w ere a bol
ished w ith the fo u n d in g o f the republic. At th e sam e time a long list o f h o n
orific designations establishing social ran k a n d distance w ere allowed to
sta n d a n d proliferate. T h e new republic lent itself to a title m ania in which
D o k to r was the least o n e m ight ex pect o f anyone who c o u n te d fo r any
thing. Beyond th a t m inim um lay h ig h e r ranks d e m a n d in g g re a te r social d ef
erence: D ozent, Professor, H o fra t, D iplom ingineur, Sanitatsrat, Schulrat,
D iplom kaufm ann, R echtsrat, C hirurg, M jdizinalrat, Stu d ien rat, K am mersanger, K om m erzialrat, D irektor, G e n erald irekto r. Wives o f those so enti
tled ex p e c te d to be ad d ressed by th e a p p ro p ria te honorific. In the im m e
diate postw ar m o n th s V ienna sw arm ed with officials o f the fo rm e r imperial
bureau cracy , now r e d u n d a n t with only th eir titles to cling to. Most bizarre
was the co m m o n use o f th e title D o k to r a m o n g the socialists, leading
to such am biguous appellations as d o c to r colleague o r professor
.
Rituals of tin* old o r d e r m arches, parades, dem o nstratio n s, an d |>til>1i<

24

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festivals took on a s h a rp e n e d political m ean ing as in stru m ents in the


struggle betw een the socialist a n d reactionary camps. A nd so did the acco u
te rm e n ts o f mass display a n d action: the crosses a n d re d flags carried; the
u nifo rm s o f athletes, youth g ro u ps, a n d param ilitary groups; peasant cos
tum es a n d progressive clothing; a n d above all, deco ratio n s in re d o r
black.52
U niform s in p a rticu lar c o n tin u e d to play a rem arkably large role in both
th e political a n d the daily life o f the Viennese: they identified the various
official authorities in working-class n e ig h b o rh o o d s fo r children playing in
the s tre e t53; they set a p a rt the w orker in m unicipal tra n s p o rt o r the railroads
as on e o f the lucky ones with steady em ploym ent a n d prestige; and, as the
trap pin gs o f large groups, uniform s served to distinguish m em bers from
non m em b ers. Even in th e earliest postw ar years unifo rm s in p arad es and
d em o n stratio n s suggested m o re th a n festivity o r identity o f th e participants.
In that c o n tex t the u n ifo rm becam e a pseudom ilitary em blem , suggesting
co m b at w ithout the n e e d to n ego tiate o r co m pro m ise a forceful contrast
o f action to th e endless discussions a n d m aneuvers o f p arliam en t.54 It was
n o t ju s t military-style uniform s th at enjoyed a g reat popularity on b o th sides
o f th e political divide; military term s also h a d wide currency, fro m th e social
ist R ote Falken (Red Falcons) to the Catholic youth, a n d fro m SDAP party
platform s to b ish op s pastoral letters. T h e list o f such atavistic rem n an ts
could easily b e ex p an d ed . They c o n trib u te d to the uncertain ty s u rro u n d in g
the republic a n d th e new A ustrian state in th e early years.
C o u ld V ienna live u p to its glorious past in the c o n tex t o f a m inuscule
state, a m p u ta te d industry a n d m arkets, a n d reactionary C atholic prov in
cialism? Was A ustria viable (lebensfhig) as an in d e p e n d e n t state?55 T he
answ er was n o (lebensunfhig) across the political sp ectru m in the first
postw ar years. N ot only did the C hristian Socials yearn fo r a re tu rn o f crown
a n d cross, and the Pan-G erm ans call fo r a u n io n o f all racial G erm ans in a
g re a te r G e rm a n state, b u t the socialists too d e m a n d e d th at the Allies
artificial A ustria be in c o rp o ra te d in to a unified G erm an socialist state. No
d o u b t th e First A ustrian R epublic had serious econom ic problem s, includ
ing a sh o rtag e o f investm ent capital, scarce fuel resources, a weak capital
goods sector, a n d u n c e rta in m arkets. But these c onditions also prevailed in
o th e r small co u n tries a n d particularly am o n g the succession states. A ustria
also had decid ed assets, which various politicians w ere loath to p u t into the
balance: its lack o f war dam age; th e quick r e tu r n fro m the fro n t o f its soldier
work force; the productivity o f nearly 90 p e rc e n t o f its arable land; the fact
that its p o p u la tio n was m ore h o m o g e n e o u s th an that o f m ost countries; an d
V ien n as c o n tin u e d role as a c om m ercial h u b betw een east a n d west.56
The question o f national viability lingered beyond the critical early years
o f re stru c tu rin g , to be d u ste d off a n d p o sed yet again in the o n g o in g stru g
gle o f th e two camps. In 1922, fo r instance, when inflation had g o tte n completely o u t o f h a n d , B au er p ro p o s e d a custom s u n io n with G erm any (as a
p relud e l<> Anschluss), a n d Seipel, as foreign m inister, while neg otiating the
stabilization o f A ustria's cu rren cy by tlu- League Powers, talked o f an

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a n n e x a tio n with G erm any, Czechoslovakia, o r Italy.57 F o r th e socialists,


especially, the subject was like a ghost refusing to be laid to rest until H itler
assum ed p ow er in G erm any. N o m a tte r how o n e wants to in te rp re t the sig
nificance o f th e force a n d persistence o f th e idea o f Lebensunfahigkeit
w h e th e r as clever diplom atic ploy to wrest concessions fro m th e Allied pow
ers o r as an idee fixe its psychological im pact was to weaken public c o n
fidence in the state, in the republic, a n d in a rep u b lican Vienna. By m aking
th e p re se n t seem to b e only tem p o rary a n d undeserv in g o f loyalty, it a d ded
to th e p o w er o f c e n trip etal forces: th e provinces against the capital; G er
m ans against aliens ; a n d the political cam ps against each other.
In p rew ar V ienna o n e o f th e less e n d e a rin g qualities o f daily life had
b e e n a ra m p a n t chauvinism o f G erm an A ustrians against the ethnic m in o r
ities.58 In the V iennese vern acu lar each o n e received a d ero g ato ry designa
tion: K row ot fo r C roat, B eh m fo r Czechoslovakian, K atzelm acher
f o r Italian, S a u ju d f o r Jew , to m en tio n b u t a few. W ith the e n d o f th e war
the V iennese p o p u la tio n suddenly becam e m o re h o m o g e n o u s as tens o f
th o u sand s m oved in a n d o u t o f the city. T he Czech, Polish, and M agyar
tro o p s r e tu rn in g from the fro n t, the Italian a n d Russian prisoners o f war,
w ere only in a h u rry to get away. . . . T h e foreign elem ent d ra in e d away
quickly fro m th e d e sp e ra te city. 59 As m e n tio n e d earlier, Czechs a n d Jews
w ere th e two sizable m inorities rem aining. T h e fo rm e r consisted o f b o th
A ustrian citizens a n d citizens o f Czechoslovakia, o f those included in o r
e x clu ded from th e political life o f th e rep ub lic. T w o-thirds o f the Czechs
w ere w orkers in close relation with the SDAP a n d th e Viennese trad e
unions. They enjoyed an active b u t sep arate cultural life, a form o f ethnic
self-segregation w hich also kept anti-C zech chauvinism alive. But the extent
o f overt chauvinism o r covert hostility was som ew hat less than b efo re the
war, f o r th e sim ple reaso n th a t Czechs h a d stan din g as nationals o r potential
nationals o f a n e ig h b o rin g state a n d h a d access to Czechoslovakian d iplo
mats in V ienna to air grievances a n d make com plaints.61
W ith the Czechs enjoying the status o f a p ro te c te d minority, that left
only th e Jews, n e ith e r a n ation n o r a people, n o t simply a religion bu t
surely a ra c e , to serve as leading scapegoat fo r th e discharge o f p o p u la r
resen tm ent. Anti-Semitism was deeply r o o te d in A ustrian public policy an d
c u ltu re, in b o th a religious a n d a racist fo rm .62 It h a d b e e n th e c o rn e rsto n e
o f the C hristian Social party, particularly u n d e r the leadership o f Mayor
Karl L u e g e r b efo re th e war.63 It was w hipped u p immediately a fter the war
by the all-too-visible presen ce o f som e 25,0 00 Jew s who h a d fled from
p o g ro m s in Galicia to the asylum o f V ienna. N o o n e h a d any use fo r this
arm y o f im poverished peddlers. F or the C hristian Socials they are Jew s;
for the G erm an nationalists they are Sem ites; a n d fo r the socialists they are
u n p ro d u c tiv e e le m e n ts. 64 In 1920 L eopold Kunschak, h ead o f the C ath
olic W o rk e rs Association a n d a close associate o f Seipel in the Christian
Social party, p ro p o se d that these Jewish refugees be given the choice o f
leaving V ienna voluntarily o r o f being p u t into c o n c e n tra tio n cam ps to seg
regate them fro m th e popu lation ."5

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Clearly this h a n d fu l o f East E u ro p e a n Jew ish refugees were only the su r


rog ate fo r th e m u ch larger, generally assimilated, Jew ish p o p u latio n o f
V ienna. It is th e V iennese Jews p ro m in e n t in the professions a n d arts, in
jo u rn a lis m a n d the rising mass m edia, in industry a n d high finance, bu t
especially in th e SDAP, who were the target in the hate cam paigns which
w ere a p e rm a n e n t fixture o f the First R epublic.66 Jew s in the first tier o f
leaders am o n g th e socialists included O tto Bauer, Max A dler, Friedrich
Austerlitz, Friedrich Adler, Julius Deutsch, Julius B raunthal, Wilhelm
Ellenbogen, R o b e rt D an n eberg , Ju liu s T andler, T herese Schlesinger (Eck
stein), Emmy Freundlich, H elene B auer (Gumplowicz), a n d H u g o
B re itn e r.67
It was to th em in p a rticu lar that th e C hristian Social party m anifesto o f
C hristm as 1918 was addressed: T h e c o rru p tio n a n d po w er m ania o f Jewish
circles, evident in the new state, forces th e C hristian Social party to call on
the G erm an -A ustrian p eo p le fo r a m ost u n re le n tin g defensive struggle
against th e Jew ish p eril. 68 T h e Pan-G erm an party p ro g ra m was equally
d irect a n d vehem ent: T he party . . . is in fav o ur o f a cam paign o f enlight
e n m e n t a b o u t the c o rru p tin g influence o f the Jewish spirit a n d the racial
anti-Sem itism necessitated thereby. It will com bat Jew ish influence in all
areas o f public a n d private life.69 Such public declarations m o re o ften than
n o t in clud ed o th e r co d e words to make the political intention o f the antiSemitic slurs clear. T h u s the Jew ish d a n g e r becam e the Jew ish Bolshevik
d a n g e r which, as all right-thinking G erm an -A ustrian s knew, re p re se n te d
the V iennese socialist d a n g e r.70
N o o n e was c learer o r s h a rp e r in describing the p re se n t a n d long-range
d a n g e r o f Jew s to a Christian A ustria th a n Ignaz Seipel, who becam e head
o f the C hristian Social party a n d ch ancellor in 1922. In a public analysis o f
the Jew ish p ro b le m in 1919 he c o n c lu d e d that the Jews w ere no t E u ro
peans, b u t aliens with a m e rc h a n t etho s pervading all th eir activities, and
that the only basis o n which they could exist in A ustrian society was as a fully
seg reg ated minority. F o r a sh o rt time in the same year Seipel flirted with a
Jewish ex ceptional law being p r e p a re d by K unschak which w ould segregate
Jews, a n nu l past a n d p re v e n t fu tu re assimilitation, a n d re d u c e th eir activity
to c o rre sp o n d with th e ir n um erical p r o p o rtio n o f the n ational p o p u la tio n .71
In the following years Seipels anti-Semitism served as a flexible instru m ent
o f his politics a n d was u sed by him with skill in dealing with his socialist
o p p o n e n ts on in n u m erab le occasions.72
T h e socialist lead ers resp on se to the virulent anti-Sem itism directed
against them a n d th eir party was e ith e r passive o r perverse. All the Jewish
leaders o f the SDAP w ere fully assim ilated a n d took pains to avoid any iden
tification o f th e party with Jew ry.73 T o be sure, the party formally o p p o sed
anti-Semitism, b u t such a passive a p p ro a c h simply allowed th eir o p p o n e n ts
to make the wildest charges an d associations Jewish-Bolshevik con sp ir
acy w ithout being c o n fro n te d as hate m ongers. W hen th e SDAP sought
to answ er sland erou s attacks, it played in to the han ds o f the anti-Sem ites by
charging that they to o w ere u n d e r th e influence o f o r were pawns of Jewish

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bank ers o r Jew ish capital. T h e perversity o f Jew ish self-hatred am on g Jewish
socialist leaders was exp ressed in th e a tte m p t to fight anti-Semitism with
anti-Sem itism in socialist p am phlets a n d b road sides.74 B ut at n o time did the
SDAP publish a full-scale re b u tta l o f anti-Sem itism o r expose the close ties
betw een its P an-G erm an a n d Christian Social e x p o n e n ts a n d the Catholic
ch u rc h a n d racist o rgan izatio ns.75
T h a t th e SDAP allowed such g u tte r politics to go essentially un chal
lenged fro m th e b e g in n in g o f th e republic to its en d, with th e p ro m in e n t
Jew s in its lead ersh ip keep ing a low profile, w eakened the party and u n d e r
cut th e republic as well. O tto B a u e r a n d o th e r p ro m in e n t Jew ish socialists
lacked the political c o u rage to answ er the anti-Semitic slanderers fearlessly
a n d pow erfully in public deb ate. By contrast, w hen L on Blum was su b
jected to an anti-Semitic slur in th e C h a m b e r o f D eputies in 1923, he
replied: I am a Je w indeed. . . . O n e does n o t in any way insult me by recall
ing th e race in which I was b o rn , a race which 1 have never denied an d
tow ards which I re ta in only feelings o f g ra titu d e a n d p rid e . A nsw ering a
similar sland er in 1936, Blum said th a t he b elo n g ed to a race which owed
to th e F re n c h R evolution h u m a n liberty a n d equality, som ething th a t could
n ev er b e f o rg o tte n . 76
It is difficult to explain the very differen t resp o nse to anti-Semitism o f
F re n c h a n d A u strian Jew ish socialists. P erh ap s the F re n c h enjoyed the
advantage o f the revolutionary heritag e o f a n a tio n which h a d also painfully
e x p e rie n c e d a n d risen above the Dreyfus Affair, w hereas th e A ustrians con
fro n te d a tra d itio n th a t h a d p rid e d itself in resisting ch a n g e .77 P u t m ore
boldly, o n e m ight say th a t the difference o f resp o n se lay in the difference
betw een th e two republics: th e F re n c h was secular a n d the A ustrian clerical.
D efeat on the battlefield swept away th e old m onarchy, b u t the Catholic
c h u rc h re m a in e d und im in ish ed in its pow er. T h e A ustrian episcopate lost
no time in declaring itself to be the m oral g u ard ian o f a Christian a n d G er
m an n a tio n . 78 At th e same tim e the reigning cardinal a n d bishops
im pressed u p o n th eir flocks the n e e d to vote fo r those parties re p re se n tin g
C hristian principles in the u p c o m in g national a n d m unicipal elections.
While th e politicians were deb a tin g articles o f the c o n stitu tio n and the rel
ative pow ers o f th e provinces a n d n ational g o v ern m en t o f the fe d e ra te d
republic, th e Catholic c h u rc h quietly laid claims to its e n d u rin g place in the
new A ustria. It re ta in e d c o n tro l over secular fun ctio ns exercised u n d e r the
m onarchy, such as com pulsory religious e d u catio n in th e schools a n d reli
gious m a rria g e .79
T h e Catholic c h u rc h was b e tte r p r e p a re d th a n anyone else to arg ue fo r
I he c ontinuity b etw een the old a n d th e new, a n d thereb y to effectively fo re
stall a serious co n sid eration o f the sep aratio n o f ch u rc h a n d state. Thus
( Catholic priests w ere paid salaries by the state, a privilege n o t a ccord ed to
the officials o f o th e r religions. A nd m ost im p o rta n t, priests were perm itte d
to hold public office, a situation m ade blatant in the p erso n o f the Jesuit
lgnaz Seipel, who as lead er o f the C hristian Social party becam e h e a d o f
governm ent. F u rth e rm o re , the n u m e ro u s thinly disguised Catholic lay

28

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action g ro u p s to be activated at will o n be h a lf o f political cam paigns by


C hancellor Seipel o r his party len t a particularly w arped c h a ra c te r to the
A ustrian repu b lic.80
It should be p o in te d out th a t th e A ustrian ch u rch was on e o f the least
flexible, m ost reactionary, a n d ultra m o n ta n ist in E u ro p e .81 T he policy o f the
A ustrian ch u rch , w h e th e r re g a rd in g th e working class o r anti-Sem itism o r
the role o f th e family, it was p o in te d o u t by the confessor to the Papal N unzio, was m ad e by th e P o p e a n d n o t in Austria. T hat revelation was m ade to
O tto Bauer, le a d e r o f the Religious (Catholic) Socialists, in two separate
interviews with F a th e r G e o rg Bichlmaier. T he la tter told B auer (known as
d e r kleine B a u e r ) th a t th e reigning C ardinal Piffl has n o th in g to say. . . .
H e is a zero. . . . C h u rc h policy is m ade in R o m e .82
It seems th at th e C atholic c h u rc h was m u ch m o re th a n simply a n o th e r
institution in the A ustrian republic, a n d th at its influence in the political
struggle betw een the two cam ps was fa r g re a te r than is generally assumed.
H ow influential was th e c h u rc h o n th e Viennese w orkers themselves? In
working-class n e ig h b o rh o o d s o n e co u ld still see little girls d ressed all in
white fo r th e ir confirm ation o r th e celeb ration o f C orp u s Christi. T he old
sacram ental practices su rro u n d in g birth, m arriage, a n d d e a th c o n tin u e d to
b e observed.83 B ut it w ould a p p e a r th a t these w ere rites de passage in
which th e c erem on y r a th e r th a n th e spiritual c o n te n t c o n tin u e d to be a ttrac
tive, a n d th at such religiosity was nom inal fo r th e overw helm ing m ajority o f
V iennese w orkers, w ho w ere two o r th re e generation s rem o v ed fro m rural
life.84 W h ereas atavistic religious practices co n tin u e d a m o n g V iennese
w orkers, anticlericalism was also on the increase am o n g them . Between
1919 a n d 1921 som e 7,000 to 8 ,0 0 0 w orkers formally left the Catholic
ch u rch e ach year, a n d b e gin nin g with th e late 1920s an nu al d efections were
in the tens o f th o u sa n d s.85 T his becom es all the m o re significant in view o f
the fact th a t these w ere form al resignations involving a legal a n d official p ro
cedure. It suggests an even larg er n u m b e r who took n o official steps bu t
simply d isre g a rd e d th e c h u rc h o r viewed it as a hostile institution.
W hat a b o u t the com m only h eld assum ption th at w om en w ere th e perp e tu a to rs o f religious trad ition a n d practice? O n e study suggests th a t V ien
nese working-class w om en w ere anticlerical o n political g ro u n d s, because
th e c h u rc h te n d e d to make th e ir lives m o re difficult with proscriptions.
T h e re seems to have b e e n little c h u rc h g o in g am o n g them . They were p a n
theist r a th e r th a n atheist; sp o n ta n e o u s p rayers at h o m e to a su p re m e being
w ere a d a p te d to th e ir familys need s a n d trials. Both m em b ership in the c re
m ation society Die Flam m e a n d resignations from th e c h u rc h w ere com
m on. At the same time an a d h e re n c e to som e atavistic rituals ap p ears also
to have b e e n fairly c o m m o n .86
T h e m e re nom inal Catholicism o f th e overw helm ing m ajority o f the
V iennese w orking class was hardly a closely kept secret. In view o f th at fact,
it is difficult to explain why, d u rin g th e m o nth s o f th e socialists greatest
p ow er in 1919, th e S D A P d id not force th ro u g h a clear sep aratio n o f ch u rch
an d state in o r d e r to constitutionally secu re a secular republic an d curtail
the pow er o f the ( Christian Social party.87 It is equally difficult to explain why

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th e SDAP was n o t th e n o r at any later tim e p r e p a re d to fight against the


pern icio us reactionary influence o f th e c h u rc h by asking w orkers o r at least
party m em b ers to leave it e n masse. In the virtual K ullurkam pf waged by the
C atholic c h u rc h against th e SDAP o n every single aspect o f the socialists
political a n d cultural pro g ram , the SDAP refu sed to use its m ost pow erful
w eapon, which w ould have m ad e the struggle unm istakably an o p e n o n e .88
D espite th e scathing criticism o f th e Free T hinkers, w ho asked the socialists
to j o i n th em in b attle with the chu rch , the SDAP stood by its position that
religion is a private m a tte r .
T h e socialists sh ra n k from taking u p th e o p e n struggle with the Catholic
c h u rc h over a secular republic, j u s t as they shrank from challenging Aus
trian capitalists o n socialization. In b o th instances they arg u e d that p rov
inces w ould secede a n d W estern financial credits w ould be cut off. O n e can
n o t prove th e m w rong, b u t a t th e same tim e o n e is p ro m p te d to d o u b t that
the Allies, who h a d c re a te d the new Austria, w ould have allowed it to be
a lte re d by territorial defections. T h e socialists seem ed to have basked in tak
ing th e m orally high g r o u n d by allowing th e class-conscious w orker to shed
all vestiges o f religion o n his own; b u t by avoiding th e struggle with the
c h u rc h when they h a d the advantage, they u n d e rm in e d th eir own projects.
L ater, w hen th e clerical rep u blic was already e n tre n c h e d , B auer o ffered
brilliant a rg u m e n ts f o r th e sep aratio n o f c h u rc h a n d state.89
H opefully, th e p re c e d in g rem arks on conditions in V ienna betw een
1919 a n d 1921 have highlighted the turm oil o f those first years o f the new
republic. T h e re may n o t have b e e n a revolution, in the sense that p ro p e rty
a n d class relations to po w er w ere n o t c h a n g e d fundam entally, b u t daily life
was sh o t th ro u g h with the sense o f uncertain ty a n d th e u nex p e c te d , with the
im provisation a n d im p e rm a n e n c e so characteristic o f revolutionary ex p e
rience. In th e nation al political a re n a th e socialists w ent into a traditional
social dem o cratic opposition. T h e two political camps, the SDAP o n the on e
h a n d a n d a coalition o f C hristian Socials a n d P an-G erm ans o n the o th er,
divided p ow er b etw een them . But it was n o t a n equal division, with the fo r
m e r in c o n tro l o f th e capital a n d province o f V ienna a n d the latte r in co m
m an d o f the nation. Yet th e SDAP rem ain ed h o peful on the national front
(it was fixated on w inning 51% o f th e vote), a n d at th e sam e tim e h a d a large
m e tro p o lita n la b o ratory in which to a tte m p t to im plem ent its socialist p r o
gram . T h e party faced this challenge with a special theoretical arm o ry
A ustrom arxism . In w hat follows we will look at th e main ten ets o f this th e
oretical fram ew ork with a n eye to assessing th e e x te n t to which it was appli
cable to th e practical m unicipal socialist refo rm s th e socialists p u t on the
a g en d a fo r V ienna.

A u strom arxism : A T h e o ry for Practice?


W hat was A ustrom arxism ? O r, b e tte r p u t, was th e re a n A ustrom arxism and,
if so, what role did it play in th e life o f th e First Republic an d in the socialist
cultural ex p erim en t c o n d u c te d in Vienna? So ((illative an d qu estio n in g an

30

Red Vienna

in tro d u c tio n should alert the re a d e r to th e difficulty in answ ering these


questions, arising fro m the su b jects elusiveness. Virtually every book deal
ing with M arxist theo ry in the decade b e fo re W orld W ar I o r with any aspect
o f the First Republic has had to stum ble th ro u g h the tho rn y field o f defi
n itio n .90 In this r e a d e r s view, all the A ustrom arxism s which have
a p p e a re d in w hat a m o u n ts to a considerable literatu re, have begged the
question a n d failed to o ffer some clear sh ared body o f theory o r firm com
m on th eo retical o rie n ta tio n th at w ould justify th e use o f the term
school. 91 Even C harles Gulick in his m agisterial political history o f nearly
two th o u sa n d pages consigned the subject to the last q u a rte r o f his work
with th e c o m m e n t (forty years ago) th a t th e te rm h a d b e e n ov erused .92
It is surely significant th at O tto B au er him self tu rn s to explaining Austro m arx ism only in 1927 in an u nsign ed lead article in Die Arbeiter-Zeitung,
a n d does so in a m a n n e r th at could n o t have been terribly illum inating to
re a d e rs o f th e party new sp ap er at th a t tim e.93 B auer calls it a school o f p re
w ar M arxism which took its d e p a r tu r e from K ant a n d M ach a n d disap
p e a re d with w ar a n d revolution. Since then, he adds, it has been a pejorative
te rm u se d by th e o p p o n e n ts o f A ustrian social dem ocracy, b u t it has also
b een taken u p in a positive sense as sum m arizing the c u rre n t principles o f
the SDAP as ou tlin e d in the Linz Program : the place o f unity above all o th e r
values a n d the synthesis o f real-political a n d revolutionary tendencies. T he
p ro blem suggested above is especially vexing, because the te rm A ustrom arxism has also b een a ttach ed to the socialist cultural ex p erim en t in
Vienna. In w hat follows, I h o p e to clear the air sufficiently to p ro c e e d with
my subject.
In answ ering the qu estio n was th e re an A ustrom arxism ? I would like
to suggest th a t th e re w ere two. T he first o f these consisted o f a small g ro u p
o f M arxist th eo retician s a n d intellectuals active in the d ecade b e fo re W orld
W ar I: Karl R e n n e r, R u d o lf H ilferding, Max A dler, O tto Bauer, a n d Fried
rich A dler. T h e second co m p rised the SDAP oligarchy o f d oers a n d re fo rm
ers d u rin g the First Republic, including the leading figures in the Viennese
m unicipal a n d provincial gov ern m en t, party leaders, a n d those responsible
fo r th e p a rty s educational, cultural, a n d publication activities. N ot only
w ere these two distinctive g ro u p s c o m p o sed o f almost com pletely different
individuals, b u t they w ere linked by n e ith e r a clear body o f theory n o r by
the ties o f active p arty o r political work. T h e second g ro u p o f party officials,
w ho c re a te d th e V iennese cultural exp erim en t, believed them selves the
heirs o f the M arxist theoretical c o n trib u tio n s m ade by the first. T he term
A u stro m arx ism was thus used to cover a m u ltitu de o f vague assum ptions
a b o u t a school o f th o u g h t th a t d e p e n d e d m o re o n in feren ce (to lend a sense
o f prestige o r continuity to a rg u m e n ts o r activities) than on sh ared ideas. It
will be necessary to take a close look at the putative f o u n d e rs o f A ustrom arxism to d e te rm in e th e legacy they w ere p re su m e d to have left to the
socialist a cto rs o f th e republic.
It is far from sim ple to sketch an intellectual collective p o rtra it o f this
small g ro u p o f A ustrian Marxists who were part o f what G eo rg e I.iclitheim

Vienna as Socialist Laboratory

31

calls the revisionist g en e ra tio n o f 1905, 94 engaged in explicating M arx on


th e basis o f c u rre n t experience. W hat did they have in com m on?95 O f the
five, all bu t R e n n e r w ere Jews or, in the case o f F riedrich Adler, the son o f
a Jew w ho had c o n v e rte d to Christianity. In th e co m m on anti-Semitic p a r
lance o f Karl L u e g e rs V ienna a n d m u ch later, once a Jew, always a Je w ,
by which was m eant: if a Jew co n v erted to the Christian religion he was a
d issem bler b o rin g fro m within; if he chose the legal status o f being w ithout
co nfessio n, it was simply to disguise Jewish plotting. A ustrian M arxists
Jew ishness is m e n tio n e d h e re to indicate that, in the p o p u la r Viennese antiSemitic p reju d ic e o f th e time, they w ere co n sidered trou b leso m e foreigners
c o rru p tin g G e rm a n c u ltu re a n d th re a te n in g th e social o rd e r.
All five h a d d o c to ra te s a n d enjoyed th e elevated cultural position o f
b ein g c o n sid ered a n d ad dressed as H e r r D o k to r in Viennese society and
within the Socialist party as well. F o u r o f the five, R e n n e r excluded, cam e
fro m middle-class families a n d milieus; all b u t R e n n e r w ere b o rn in Vienna.
T hey w ere o ccu p ied e ith e r in the liberal professions o r as intellectuals in the
SDAP. R e n n e r h a d a p ost in the library o f p arliam en t until h e was elected a
d ep u ty in 1906; Max A d le r b ecam e a lawyer in 1902 a n d shortly th e re a fte r
was a p p o in te d to an associate professorship o f sociology an d social philos
ophy at the University o f Vienna; H ilferding was a physician; B auer becam e
secretary o f the SDAP parliam entary delegation; a n d Friedrich A lder was
o n e o f the Socialist p arty secretaries a fter 1911. N on e o f th em h a d practical
party work e x p erien ce o r m o re th a n p erip h eral contact with workers. O n e
m ight say that the stereo ty p e o f th e com fortab le Viennese professional who
h a d m ade politics o n an intellectual level his real com m itm en t fit the g ro u p
very well. T h e ir position as professionals a n d intellectuals, th eir marginality
as Jews, a n d th eir u nfam iliarity with the daily life o f o rd in ary Viennese cre
a te d a n a tu ra l rem o ten ess fro m practical questions. W hat was an intellectual
self-exclusion fo r these m en becam e a b u reau cratic exclusion fo r the activ
ists w ho co m m a n d e d th e SDAP a fte r 1918.96
It is equally difficult to find a co m m o n intellectual d e n o m in a to r in the
brilliant Marxist studies published by these y o ung m en w hen they w ere still
in th eir twenties. T o be sure, B auer a n d H ilferding sh ared an interest in
imperialism as e x p ressed in th eir respective works o f 1907 a n d 1910.97 Sim
ilarly, R e n n e r a n d B a u e r sh ared an in terest in the state in relation to n a tio n
alism.98 A nd Max A dler a n d F riedrich A dler b o th sought to r e tu r n the su b
jectiv e in g re d ie n t into th e calculation o f the co urse a n d progress o f h u m an
events.99 But in n o n e o f these cases can o n e really find a sense o f shared
intellectual e n d e a v o r o r bo rro w in g o f ideas a n d term s. N or, aside from
Marx, d o they a p p e a r to have sh ared the same intellectual influences: for
R e n n e r it was J o h n S tu a rt Mill; fo r H ilferding, Karl Kautsky; fo r Max Adler,
Kant; a n d f o r B auer a n d Friedrich A dler, Ernst Mach. T h o u g h evidence fo r
a school o f M arxism is lacking, th e re are illusive co m m o n assum ptions,
experiences, a n d ten d en cies o f th o u g h t which associated these m en and
gave th eir ideas a sense o f cohesiveness a n d o rie n ta tio n actually difficult to
pin dow n in the text o f th eir writing, bu t still com pelling e n o u g h to be iden

32

Red Vienna

tified as A ustro m arxism by those who a d o p te d th at designation d u rin g


the First Republic.
Perhaps, this elusive cohesion can best be fo u n d n o t in th eir ideas b u t
in the locale o f th eir activity in V ienna itself.100 The im perial residence
a n d capital o f th e Dual M onarchy was a showcase fo r w hat on th e surface
a p p e a re d to be a colorful array o f nationalities, b u t which to the m ore care
ful o b serv er re p re s e n te d the gravediggers o f a crum bling e m p ire .101 V ienna
was also a bustling m etropolis, m oving fully in to the age o f industry, in
which an econom ically established b u t politically im m atu re bourgeoisie
increasingly took c o n fro n tatio n al cognizance o f a rapidly organizing w ork
ing class. A fu r th e r exam ple o f the co ntradictio n s in h e re n t in the very struc
tu re o f th e city is th e d o m in atin g b a ro q u e quality o f the noble q u a rte rs an d
palaces, c o n ju rin g u p th e C o u n te rre fo rm a tio n a n d reaction, poised against
th e b o u rg eois elegance o f th e Ringstrasse, c o n tra ste d in tu r n with new rail
way yards, factories, a n d w orker ten em ents. V ienna was proudly re fe rre d to
as th e Paris o f c entral E u ro p e , b u t it was also th e capital o f a disin tegrat
ing em pire. This dualism o f artistic/intellectual innovation a n d decay, o f
sexuality a n d d e a th in the view o f B ettelheim , m ade it the natu ra l b irth
place o f psychoanalysis.102
It is easy to u n d e rsta n d why th e A ustrom arxists w ere radicalized by th eir
su rro u n d in g s, in which th e absence o f an E nligh ten m en t tradition, ex em
plified by rationalism a n d liberty, equality, a n d fra te rn ity as dissem inated
by th e F re n c h R evolution, was still painfully a p p a re n t a fte r th e tu r n o f the
c e n tu ry .103 T h e g reat A nglo-French e n lig htenm ent trad ition was lacking in
C en tral E u ro p e as a whole. In its absence the A ustrom arxists clung to G e r
m an c u ltu re as th e repository o f h u m a n ism .104
N o t only th e c o ntrad iction s a n d stresses in Viennese society in general
b u t also th e specific form ative intellectual ex perien ce o f the A ustrom arxists
in th e city im p a rte d a c ertain co m m o n d irectio n to th eir differing ideas. T he
A ustrom arxists first a p p e a re d as a g ro u p in 1895 as fo u n d e rs o f the I n d e
p e n d e n t A ssociation o f Socialist S tu dents a n d Academicians, consisting o f
socialist university stu den ts a n d instructors. At the University o f V ienna the
A ustrom arxists cam e u n d e r the influence o f ideas im p o rta n t to th eir work.
F ro m th e socialist p ro fe sso r o f political econom y Carl G ru n b e rg they
le a rn e d to view M arxism as a social science to be developed by historical an d
sociological investigations.106 They also becam e active m em b ers o f the Asso
ciation fo r Social Science E d u catio n o rganized by G ru n b e rg a n d the M arx
ist p ro fe sso r o f history L u d o H a rtm a n n .
T h e university en v iro n m e n t fu r th e r ex po sed th em to a variety o f stim
u lating non-M arxist influences: th e ideas o f Mach, who was p ro fesso r o f
physics a n d th e philosophy o f science106; neo-K antian ideas, which enjoyed
a great popularity; a n d Carl M enger a n d E ugen Bohm -Bawerk o f the Aus
trian o r m arginal utility school o f political econom y, whose fierce critique
o f Marx stim ulated responses from the g ro u p . T hey e n gag ed in two collec
tive publication enterprises: in 1904 they began publication o f a yearbook
ailed M arx-Studien, e d ited by Max A dler a n d H ilferding, a n d in 1907 they

Vienna as Socialist Laboratory

33

s ta rte d p ublishing the m onthly theoretical jo u r n a l D erK am pf u n d e r the edi


to rsh ip o f B auer, R en n er, a n d later Friedrich Adler. All m em bers o f the
g ro u p c o n trib u te d to b o th publications, which th e n a n d later were widely
c o n sid e re d to em b od y A ustrom arxism .
Even m o re im p o rta n t th a n th e university as a gath erin g place for the
A ustrom arxists was th e ir habitual reso rt, the Cafe C entral, located in the
fashionable H e rre n g a sse a n d fre q u e n te d by local a n d foreign intellectu
als.107 It is h ere, in th e special am bience o f the V iennese Kaffeehaus, th at the
A ustrom arxists are alleged to have developed their rem arkable ability to
h arm o n ize a n d reconcile inconsistencies: to be well in teg rated in society an d
zealously to re p u d ia te it in w o rd a n d p r in t.108
T h e o u tb re a k o f w ar e n d e d the cohesion V ienna h a d given to the g ro u p
o f five. O f these f o u n d e rs o f A ustrom arxism , only B auer was to make a tra n
sition in to th e postw ar w orld as th eo retician a n d m an o f destiny. As putative
h e a d a n d theoretical spokesm an o f th e SDAP, he c arried the heritage o f the
p re w a r p ro g e n ito rs forw ard. In d e e d , as we shall see, O tto B auer and A us
tro m arxism becam e synonymous. Two m em b ers o f th e gro u p , H ilferding
a n d Fried rich A dler, left V ienna a n d the A ustrian terra in o f Marxist
th o u g h t a n d activity. A fte r serving as a physician in the im perial army, H il
fe rd in g w ent to G erm any, w here he h a d already b een a fre q u e n t visitor since
1906. T h e re he jo in e d the Socialist party a n d becam e m inister o f finance in
two W eim ar adm inistrations. F ried rich A d ler e m e rg e d as a heroic figure at
th e e n d o f the w ar because o f his assassination o f the im perial chancellor
C o u n t von Stiirkh. B ut h e refu sed the o ffer to b ecom e h e a d o f b o th the Aus
trian C o m m u nist party a n d th e C om m unist In te rn a tio n a l a n d c o n te n te d
him self with leading th e C ouncil M ovem ent into n o n rev olu tio nary waters.
H e h e lp e d fo u n d the V ienna U n io n , popularly called the Tw o-and-a-half
In te rn a tio n a l, o f parties seeking a midway course betw een Russian Bolshe
vism a n d social-patriotic social dem ocracy. W hen th e a tte m p t to unify the
th re e in tern ation als failed in 1923, A d ler becam e secretary o f the L a b o r
a n d Socialist In te rn a tio n a l (successor o f th e p re w a r Second Internatio nal)
a n d resid ed at its h e a d q u a rte rs in L o n d o n a n d later in Z urich an d
B russels.109
A lth ou g h R e n n e r a n d Max A dler rem ain ed o n the scene in Vienna, b o th
w ere vastly overshadow ed by B auer, who o n occasion acted as arb ite r
b etw een them w ithout his own position being placed in je o p a rd y . R e n n e r
served as ch ancellor d u rin g the b rie f coalition gov ern m en ts o f the new
repu b lic ( 1 9 1 9 - 2 0 ) .110 A fterw ard he was relegated by B auer to the m argins
o f the p arty d ire c to ra te a n d c o n te n te d him self with acting as p residen t o f
parliam ent. At crucial times, as we shall see, he re e m e rg e d a n d challenged
th e whole new co n c e p tio n o f A ustrom arxism in its B auerian configuration.
Max A d ler re su m e d his qu iet academ ic an d intellectual life a fte r a b rie f
p e rio d o f activity in 1 9 1 8 -1 9 in su p p o rt o f th e w orkers councils (though
h e o p p o se d all soviet experim ents) an d o f the factory councils, which he
h o p e d would becom e w orkplace revolutionizing agencies. H e spent m uch
tim e in G erm any, w here he associated with th e left within th e SPD a n d

to g e th e r willi iix leaders, Km I Rosenfcld, Max Seidewil/., 1le im ic h Strobel,


a n d Iaul Levi ed ited tlu* periodical Der Klasscnkampf-Marxistische Matter
i'rotn 1927 to 1 9 3 1.1" H e also e d ited a series o n socialist ed u c a tio n u n d e r
th e ru b ric n e u e M ensch en fo r an in d e p e n d e n t left p ub lisher fro m 1924
to 1928. H e was well received by the circles o f the SPD left, w here he was
generally viewed as th e spokesm an fo r A ustrom arxism . In the SDAP, as we
shall see, he m ade im p o rta n t con trib u tio n s to Marxist theory, u n d e rp in n in g
a n d justifyin g th e SD A Ps cultural e x perim ent, a n d th ereb y seconded
B a u e rs position o n th e relationship betw een c u ltu re an d p o w er o n the ro ad
to socialism.
W h at was th e actual legacy passed o n to the A ustrom arxists o f the
rep u blic by this g ro u p o f p re w a r theoreticians? R a th e r th a n a c o h e re n t body
o f ideas, they seem to have passed o n a n u m b e r o f o rientations: a neo-Kantian em phasis o n subjectivity a n d h u m a n volition in the historical process; a
new view o f the state; the dissem ination o f enlig h te n m e n t th ro u g h Bildung,
b u t with a w a rp e d G e rm a n slant; a n d M arxism seen as the social science. This
distillation o f th e A ustrom arx ist in h e rita n c e th o u g h n o t necessarily my
explications which follow sh o uld pass m u ste r b e fo re m ost historians
fam iliar with th e subject. I w ould like to a d d o n e m o re aspect o f th e A u stro
m arxists legacy, which is m o re controversial: m aking history m o re h um an
a n d p urposive assum ed an individual malleability in the process o f social
ization a n d raised the sp ecter o f w orkers as objects, a n d at th e same time
e m b o d ie d th e conflict betw een leaders a n d masses, a u th oritarian ism a n d
passivity.
I shall try to e x p a n d u p o n th e orie n ta tio n s which have b e e n p u t dow n
in sh o rth a n d fo rm above, b u t hopefully w ith o ut the painfully confusing j a r
go n a n d neologism s (such as ethicality ) co m m o n to such discourse, an d
with a re m in d e r to th e r e a d e r th a t we are looking only fo r the legacy o f early
A u strom arxist ideas draw n u p o n by the A ustrom arxist activists in th e p ost
w ar p e r io d .112 Max A dler was certainly captivated by the n eo-K antian m odel
b u ild ing a n d M achian attacks o n the tyranny o f m aterialism th a t swept the
V iennese intellectual world. A dler a tte m p te d to find a M arxist expression
fo r K ants ethics a n d categorical im perative, or, as o n e o f th e astutest
ex p e rts on A d ler has p u t it, to a d a p t K ant fo r use by social d em o cracy .113
D ispersed th r o u g h o u t Max A d le rs w ork is his central a tte m p t to inte
g rate K antian a n d M achian ideas with Marxism, in the h o p e o f m aking the
la tte r b o th m o re precise (as th e equivalent o f the social sciences) a n d m ore
flexible, so as to allow fo r th e ro le o f h u m a n consciousness.114 H e sought to
fre e M arxism fro m vulgar materialistic determ in ism w ithout ab an d o n in g
dialectical econom ic lawfulness in historical developm ent, while at the same
tim e giving an o p p o rtu n ity to th e w orking class collectively as the agent o f
th e inevitable socialism to make its subjective volition p a rt o f the objective
historical process. T he individual th e w orker, if you will attains a high er
expressiveness a n d individual consciousness while b ein g socialized that is,
e d u c a te d to th e fu nctio n s o f his class in th e historical process.
W h at we have h e re is Fried rich Engelss sturdy a n d inflexible scientific

socialist suit b ein g knocked o f f in a very elastic fabric, o n e which served


well l he pragm atic o rie n ta tio n o f th e A ustrom arxist republican activists,
who set o u t to c reate an original p ro letarian c u ltu re. 1'hey w ere particularly
receptive to A d le rs suggestion th at the d ev elo pm en t o f the w orkers g reater
self-consciousness, th e ir in terven tio n in the building o f socialism, n eed n o t
be p o s tp o n e d until th e tocsin h a d so u n d e d th e on set o f revolution. The
w orkers could act now; they could be p re p a re d to act now; they could be
e d u c a te d to act in th e ir best interest; they could be tra n sfo rm e d fro m being
less th a n h u m a n to b e in g n e u e M ensch en . O n e can easily see th e inspiring
quality o f such ideals. T h e p ro b le m w ith o r m o re precisely, the d a n g e r
o f this vision lay in th e m e th o d o f its im plem en tatio n, which is o n e o f the
main them es o f this book. T h e d a n g e r lay in superim p o sin g th e narrow
a u th o rita ria n stru c tu re o f th e party a n d its paternalistic a n d dirigiste m e th
ods o n to a c u ltu ral e n te rp rise whose substance a n d p u rp o se w ere m eant to
be liberating.
A n im p o rta n t u n d e r to n e in A d le rs m arriage o f Kant to M arx is the
socialization o f K a n ts ethical universalism ex p ressed th ro u g h th e agency o f
th e categorical im p erativ e. In A d le rs tra n sfo rm a tio n o f th e latter, the
K antian postu late th at m an shall nev er use m an as a m eans em erges as a
collective m o ral c o m m itm e n t to struggle against the reification a n d alien
ation o f m an. T h e re is a lack o f clarity in A d le rs form ulation: if m an can
becom e a self-conscious a c to r in the collective historical process a n d if, at
th e sam e time, dialectical econom ic lawfulness continu es as the m o to r force
o f history, th e n how do linkages betw een these two processes occur? Is the
w o rkers e d u c a tio n only p re p a ra to ry fo r the eventual revolutionary event,
w ithout any d irect m eans o f influencing it speeding it u p, fo r exam ple?115
T h e A u strom arx ists view o f the state, stem m ing largely fro m Hilferd in g s Finanzkapital, only f u r th e r co n fo u n d s the p ro b le m .116 T h e dialectical
struggle is seen as h aving m oved to a h ig h er level in th e econom ic realm, in
which finance capital co n tro ls p ro d u c tio n at a distance. T h e state, acc o rd
ingly, stands above a n d a p a rt fro m th e struggle b u t attains th e ability to gain
c o n tro l over th e econom y w ithout e x p ro p ria tio n o r a revolutionary seizure
o f pow er. W ith o u t g ettin g f u r th e r in to the pyram idal contradictions, it m ust
be said that th e state th eory did n o t resolve A d le rs dilem ma; it did pass on
to th e p ra c titio n e r socialists th e n o tio n th a t som ehow th e state could be a
n e u tra l force (resting o n constitutional assurances, etc.). L ooking at the
A ustrom arxist heritag e from a considerable distance, it seems a p p a re n t that
M a rx s (or particularly E n g els) dialectical m aterialism had b een left by the
wayside.117
O n e o f the m ost pow erful o rien tatio ns inh e rite d by socialists o f the
rep u blic fro m th e ir A ustrom arx ist fo reb ears was th e com m itm en t to Bildung. T h e po stw ar SDAP decisively e n gag ed in the en lig h te n m e n t o f the
w orkers to develop th e ir self-consciousness as a socialized class experience.
But the e n lig h te n m e n t h a n d e d dow n to the socialist r e fo rm e r was curi
ously divorced in virtually every way fro m th e g reat A nglo-French Enlight
e n m e n t. Particularly a b sen t was the n atu ral law d o ctrin e, g u a ra n te e in g

36

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defined rights as well as tangible freedom s, a n d the anticlericalism implicit


in theory a n d w idespread in practice in W estern E urop e. T h e c o n te n t o f the
B ildung b ein g o ffered to the workers, th e re fo re , was largely limited to the
v enerable ideas o f G e rm a n c u ltu re .118 T he reliance o n these to the exclusion
o f the E n lig h ten m en t can be exp lain ed as stem m ing fro m the com plicated
differing historical d ev elo p m ent o f C en tral E u ro p e , leading to a certain iso
lation and provincialism. But th e re is m o re to it. The A ustrom arxist fo u n
ders had q u ite clearly co n clu d ed that the only c u ltu re w orthy o f the nam e
in C entral E u ro p e was G erm an. T he earliest writings o f B au er a n d R enner,
which differentiate betw een n a tio n s a n d th e state a n d argu e fo r th e m ain
tenance o f the e m pire over culturally e n titled nationalities, conclude that
the only c u ltu re o f sta tu re is th e G erm an o n e .119
T he A ustrom arxist heritag e o f B ildung was tran slated by the refo rm e rs
into w hat R abinbach calls the politics o f pedagogy. 120 T h e characteriza
tion is apt in th at a general civilizing mission is implied. But pedagogy sug
gests the prim acy o f the b oo k very m u ch as the A ustrom arxist elders had
viewed it,121 w hereas th e B ildung o f the cu ltu ral ex p e rim e n t in V ienna
sought in a com prehensive a n d even total way n o t only to give workers
know ledge b u t to directly alter th eir behavior. T hus the re fo rm e r assum ed
n o t only th e traditional role o f ped a g o g u e b u t that o f social e n g in e e r as well.
The d a n g e r o f the n e o -K a n tia n -M a c h ia n -M a rx ist m atrix p o in te d to
earlier becam e clear w hen the o p p o rtu n ity arose in V ienna to p u t these o ri
entations into practice. By casting w orkers as b o th less than h u m a n (because
th eir lives knew only misery) a n d at th e same tim e m alleable, the directors
o f V ien nas cultural ex p e rim e n t c o uld d isregard th e existence o f w orker
su bcu ltu res a n d p re su m e a kind o f cu ltu ral tabula rasa on which they could
im p rin t all th at a new pro le ta ria n c u ltu re would req u ire. T h e cultural
reform s based o n th e perspective th a t the w orkers lived like primitives lack
ing in stan d ard s a n d n o rm s o f co m m o n decency could becom e, in a sense,
acts o f creatio n in which the w ork er as h u m a n e m e rg e d from the raw clay
o f exploited a n d b ru tish beings.
In re c o u n tin g the legacy o f the A ustrom arxist fo u n d ers, it rem ains to
assess th eir m eth o do log y th e ir view o f M arxism as social science. The
com plicated theoretical process by which th e A ustrom arxists, a n d Max
A dler in p articu lar, a tte m p te d to tam e science to th e task o f em ancipating
th e w orking class did n o t affect th e p ractitio ners o f the republic a n d n e e d
n o t c o n c e rn us h e r e .122 T he m ethodological legacy reflected b o th Kantian
a n d M achian influences in trying to reconcile causality a n d teleology, d e te r
minism a n d h u m a n freed o m . F ro m an intellectual p o in t o f view, the Aus
tro m arx ists e ffort did n o t succeed. O n th e o n e h an d, they posited socialized
hum anity as a K antian given, a category o f know ledge stem m ing from re a
son r a th e r th a n experience. O n the o th e r, they tre a te d Marxism as an
em pirical science o f society com patible with (and derived from ) M achs th e
ory o f cognition (sensate positivism).m T h e fact that the dichotom y betw een
deductive givens an d inductive epistem ology was left unresolved did not
seem to b o th e r the Viennese socialist reform ers. Indeed, theoretical i111pit*-

Vienna as Socialist Laboratory

37

cision in this as well as o th e r aspects o f the A ustrom arxist inheritance


seem ed to suit th e ir p ragm atic inclinations. T h e could, with some p rid e o f
continuity with g ra n d A ustrom arxist theory, view th eir own efforts in cre
a tin g a working-class c u ltu re as an application o f Marxist social science with
o u t having to s u r r e n d e r subjective beliefs.
W hat th e A ustrom arxists actually passed on to the socialist activists was
a distillation o f th e various o rientatio ns e xam ined above. G ra n d theory had
b e e n c re a te d in a w orld fa r rem o v ed fro m practical politics. L a te r it was
m ad e functional a n d pragm atic by th e socialists, w ho co m m a n d e d th e SDAP
a n d go v ern ed V ienna, by in fo rm in g a n d justifying reform s in progress and
p ro g ra m s yet to be initiated. F o r the socialist doers, in o th e r words, p rew ar
A u strom arxist theo ry was a hallow ed in h eritan ce m o re h o n o re d th an a c tu
ally u n d e rs to o d o r m ade use o f save in a talismanic way. It w ould have b een
u n th in k ab le f o r a socialist fu nctio n ary in re p ub lican A ustria n o t to consider
o r declare him self to b e an A ustrom arxist, fo r th at trad ition was a necessary
p a rt o f his identity. But th e actual A ustrom arxism p racticed by the same
fu n ctio n ary was a highly political set o f strategies a n d tactics resting u p o n a
d efin ed co n cep tu al fram ew ork. T he latter, the A ustrom arxism o f practice,
was fo rm u la te d virtually single-handedly by O tto Bauer.
Before we tu r n to an exam ination o f this o p e ra n t th e o ry , it would be
useful to have a b e tte r idea o f who th e socialist do ers actually were. They
in clud ed the m unicipal city fa th e rs : M ayor Ja k o b R eu m ann (and from
1923 on, Karl Seitz); C ouncillor fo r F inance H u g o B reitner; C ouncillor for
H e a lth a n d Social W elfare Julius T andler; C ouncillor fo r Schools a n d E d u
cation O tto Glockel; a n d C ouncillor fo r H o u sin g A n to n W eber. Most sig
nificant o n the provincial level was R o b e rt D a n n e b e rg as presid en t o f p a r
liam ent. P ro m in e n t within the SDAP d ire c to ra te w ere 'Seitz as president,
D a n n e b e rg as secretary, a n d Julius D eutsch as he a d o f the Sch utzbu n d
(param ilitary d efen se unit). Party educational efforts w ere directed by
Glockel a n d A n to n Tesarek, fo u n d e r o f th e R ote Falken. Party c u ltu re was
e n tru s te d to J o s e p h L u itpo ld Stern, David J o se p h Bach, a n d O tto Felix
Kanitz. SDAP publications w ere gu ided by Fried rich Austerlitz, Max W in
ter, a n d Julius B raunthal. Seemingly in th e b a ck grou n d, because h e held no
official position in th e party stru c tu re , was O tto Bauer. But, as w riter o f Die
Arbeiter-Zeitungs daily leaders a n d as chairm an o f th e SDAP national p arlia
m en tary delegation, B a u e r was the u n d is p u te d h e a d o f the party, with no
o n e to e ith e r th e left o r th e right able to challenge his intellectual a n d m oral
force. B au er h a d the distinction o f em bodying b o th the venerable A u stro
m arxist traditio n a n d th e A ustrom arxism o f practical reform s.
It w ould be only a slight exaggeration to say that A ustrom arxism in the
First Republic was synonym ous with B a u e rs form ulations, particularly with
his theo ry o f th e balance o f class fo rces. 124 T h e la tte r constellation o f
ideas so ug h t to explain the past, p resen t, an d fu tu re cou rse o f the republic
in a way that b rid g e d the most glaring co ntra d ic tio n o f the o ld e r A u stro
m arxist tradition: to reconcile th e subjective volition o f the w orking class,
exp ressed in a h eig h te n e d self-consciousness, wilh the lawful, historical

Red Vienna

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O tto Bauer addressing a worker rally in the early 1920s (VGA)

m aterialist process. T h e balance o f class forces, formally stated only in


1 9 2 3 - 2 4 b u t traceable in p a rt to B a u e rs p rew ar w ritings,125 was at the same
tim e a ju stificatio n fo r th e revolution o f the sou l by which the w orkers
w ould be culturally p r e p a r e d to u n d e rta k e th e ir historical mission o f estab
lishing socialism.
T ru e to th e trad itio n o f the g ra n d th eoretical sweep, which he had
h e lp e d to establish, B au er p u t his analysis o f socialisms tasks a n d prospects
in a w orld perspective. Its object was to discover a th ird way, a ro u te o th e r
th a n th at taken by the Bolsheviks o r the passive reform ism o f traditional
social dem ocracy. F ro m the vantage p oin t o f the early 1920s, h e claimed, a
situation h a d arisen in E u ro p e w h ere n e ith e r th e bourgeoisie n o r the p ro
letariat was able to d o m in a te the state, an d they were fo rc e d to share power.
This c o n d itio n was th e balance o f class forces w herein n e ith e r class was able
to exercise a heg em o ny w ith ou t th e tacit p a rticipatio n o f its opposite. In
Italy a n d Russia this situation h a d b e e n resolved n o t by the d ictato rsh ip o f
e ith e r th e b ourgeoisie o r p ro letariat, b u t by in d e p e n d e n t state pow er in the
first a n d by d ic tato rsh ip o f a caste in the second; in b oth, th e resolution had
taken place above th e classes.
In A u stria , B a u e r in sisted , e v en th o u g h th e b o u rg e o isie h a d r e e s ta b
l is h e d its p o litic a l h e g e m o n y b y 1 9 2 2 , t h e r e p u b l i c c o n t i n u e d t o d e p e n d o n
a d e g r e e o f s h a r e d p o w e r . A s e v i d e n c e B a u e r p u t t h e S D A P s c o n t r o l o f
V ien n a a n d a

fe w

ru ra l in d u s tria l c e n te r s o n th e scale a g ain st th e rest o f th e

c o u n try a n d su g g e sted th at, a lth o u g h

llie p o litic a l p o w e r s w e r e n o t b a l

Vienna as Socialist Laboratory


anced, only a civil w ar c ould break the stalemate. T he latter, which in addi
tio n to causing m u ch bloo d sh ed a n d suffering would wipe o u t all the gains
a n d p ow er o f th e w orking class, h a d to be avoided at virtually any price.
It was a d a rin g con c e p tio n which placed an e n o rm o u s b u rd e n on the
SDAP in V ienna to c re a te an institutional n etw ork th ro u g h which the work
ers c ould be m ade culturally m a tu re fo r socialism. It p resu m ed that n eith er
side w ould risk a c o n test fo r pow er, a n d th a t th e w orkers would not be inte
g ra te d in to the politics o f the bourgeoisie o r d o m in ated by its cult ure. Thus
B a u e r se p a ra te d th e cultural fro m th e political revolution, with the implicit
d a n g e r (soon to b ecom e actual) that the fo rm e r would be substituted for the
latter, th at the V iennese cu ltu ral e x p e rim e n t would attem p t to com pensate
fo r socialist pow erlessness in the national a r e n a .126 T he dualism o f Bauer's
con c e p tio n was n o m o re resolved th a n the contrad ictio n s in p rew ar A ustrom arxism h a d been. T h e p re p a ra to ry cultural strategy, which legitim ated the
w hole V iennese ex p e rim e n t, h a d n o real links to the process o f com ing to
p ow er in th e fu tu re . N o r was the relationship m ade clear betw een cultural
h eg em o n y th ro u g h B ildung a n d th e laws o f capitalist developm ent. In that
w orld o f real pow er, objective an d im m utable laws o f historical materialism
w ere p re su m e d to be g rin d in g on to th a t happ y fu tu re when the socialists
w ould in h e rit p o w e r.127
By som e cruel irony B au er was recap itu latin g p rew ar A u stro m arxism s
evasion o f the con tra d ic tio n betw een subjective a n d objective power. O n
th e basis o f B a u e rs analysis, which took little acco un t o f the tough-m indedness o f the C hristian Social party o r the C atholic chu rch , Bildung becam e
th e real politics o f th e SDAP. T he fo u n d a tio n , on which the Viennese cul
tu ral e x p e rim e n t was based, seems to have b e e n fragile, a n d B a u e rs op ti
mistic p ro g n o sticatio n fo r th e com ing o f socialism app ears to have been
based o n a very naive co n c e p tio n o f struggle. R abinbach has explained
th e mystery o f such evasions o f reality tersely as B a u e rs will to
pow erlessness. 128
T h e co u rse c h a rte re d by B au er fo r th e SDAP exem plified what D ieter
G ro h has called negative in te g ra tio n . 129 It consisted o f an em phasis on
party grow th a n d unity, o n electoral success a n d p arliam entary activity, and
m ost o f all o n B ildung to p re p a re th e w orking class fo r its historical role and
to neutralize w ork er aggression, diverting it from political action. Bauer's
justification o f the p a rty s cultural ex p e rim e n t was seconded by Max Adlet
in a long essay whose title, Neue Menschen, was probably m o re influential
th a n its s u b sta n c e .130 In this work, dealing with the ed ucation o f the workei s,
A dler d e n o u n c e d existing socialist pedagogy as being unscientific and
avoided all practical questions. H e assum ed th at the w orkers were not
m a tu re e n o u g h fo r revolution a n d p ro p o s e d an educational tra nsfo rm atio n
th a t w ould c reate th e new consciousness within the existing state. In that
sense, ed uc a tio n w ould act as a vehicle o f cultural c om m unication a n d as an
im p o rta n t in stru m e n t o f th e class struggle. T he last tu rn o f p h rase was p r o b
ably th e essays m ain c o n trib u tio n to B a u e rs co ncep tual cdilicc.
B a u e rs fo rm u latio n o f the balance o f class forces received critical h ie

40

Red Vienna

alm ost im m ediately a fte r its main exposition, fro m b o th outside a n d inside
the party. H ans Kelsen, the liberal legal theoretician a n d architect o f A us
tria s c o n stitution , arg u e d th at th e re h a d n o t b e e n a balance o f class pow er
e ith e r d u rin g th e b rie f coalition p erio d o r th ereafter, because the capitalist
exploitative system an d related social o r d e r h a d r em ained in c o n tro l.131 The
b elief th at the equilibrium betw een classes could be exp ected to last for
som e time a n d provide the necessary basis fo r the SD A Ps cultural strategy
was challenged by O tto L eichter, one o f the editors o f Die Arbeiter-Zeitung.
T h e disarray am o n g reactio n ary forces a fte r the war, he arg u ed , h a d been
p ro d u c e d by th e council m ovem ent, which h a d since faded away. In A ustria
th e balance h a d ceased to fu n c tio n w hen the C hristian Social party regained
its po w er in 1922. Such an e p ip h e n o m e n o n , he concluded, did n o t m erit a
whole new c o n cep tio n o f the class struggle a n d the s ta te .132
T hese co m m en taries n e ith e r alte re d B a u e rs position n o r deflected
m unicipal officials and SDAP fun ctio n aries fro m co n tin u in g to p u t the cul
tural p ro g ra m into p ractice so m ethin g they h a d be e n d o in g fo r som e time
b e fo re th e form al discussion o f the legitimizing balance-of-forces theory.
T o e n d th e long saga o f A ustrom arxist theo ry h ere, in 1 9 2 3 -2 4 , w ould offer
to o idyllic a p ictu re o f the fate o f B a u e rs co nceptu al s tru c tu re in its contact
with political reality. Strangely e n o u g h , the SDAP did ex perien ce a few
nearly halcyon years in which th e party grew a n d its p rog ram s flourished.
T h e party congress o f 1926 took place at the high p oin t o f socialist selfconfidence a n d sense o f practical accom plishm ent. This was ex pressed in
the so-called Linz P ro g ram , which co nfirm ed the socialists co m m itm ent to
social ch an g e a n d cultural im p ro v e m e n t.133 M uch o f the d ra ft p ro g ra m as
usual, the w ork o f B a u e r was devo ted to explicating th e p a rty s devotion
to political dem ocracy a n d its institutions. In the process it n o t only ch a r
acterized Bolshevism as a failed a tte m p t to elevate socialism to a hig her
p lane a n d w a rn e d a b o u t m eth od s o f change based o n force, b u t also directly
re c o n sid e re d th e n o tio n o f balance o f class forces. T h e latte r review was
u n d e rta k e n in respo n se to the grow th o f th e H e im w e h r134 a n d o th e r an ti
rep u b lic a n forces which th re a te n e d to overthrow dem ocracy. It p roje c te d
a fu tu re in which th e balance w ould be u pset in favor o f the socialists, who
w ould com e to p o w er by being elected by a clear m ajority o f A ustrian s.135 If
the socialists th e n u sed th e ir dem ocratically gained right to e x p ro p ria te cap
italism, su p p o rte rs o f th e la tte r w ere ex p ected to d e fe n d th eir p ro p e rty and
p osition o f p o w er by resisting. If, th e a rg u m e n t c o n tin u ed , th e bourgeoisie
sh ou ld initiate a co u n te rre v o lu tio n with the object o f re sto rin g the m o n
archy o r c re a tin g a fascist state, th e SDAP would be obliged to use defensive
fo rce (civil war) a n d a defensive dictatorship.
This position on defensive force a n d defensive d ictatorship to safeguard
d em ocracy was a co m p ro m ise h a m m e re d o u t at the congress betw een B auer
a n d Max A dler, in o p po sitio n to R e n n e r .156 T h e latter had a rg u e d th at the
socialists' e n try in to a new coalition with its o p p o n e n ts w ould safeguard the
balance o f forces. A dler had insisted that only the fear of w orker selfd efen se kept th e bourgeoisie at bay an d the ( lass forces in balance. T he linal

Vienna as Socialist Laboratory

41

p ro g ra m im plied that the SDAP would pro te c t its c ultural ex p erim en t with
force o f arm s if necessary. A ltho u gh Die Reichspost a n d o th e r right-wing
n ew sp ap ers chara c te rize d the defensive force position as a call fo r bloody
revolution, B a u e rs terse slogan D em ocratic as long as we can be; dicta
to rsh ip only if we are fo rc e d to it, a n d insofar as we are fo rc e d suggested
that p e rh a p s th e SD A Ps firm stan d was only rh etorical a fte r all.137 A test o f
how far the party was p re p a r e d to go to d e fe n d the balance o f forces cam e
s o o n e r th a n th e socialists e x p e c te d .138
O n July 15, 1927, a sp o n ta n e o u s a n d massive w orker revolt in V ienna
directly challenged th e SD A Ps central d oc trin e a n d p u t the survival o f the
repu b lic in q u e stio n .139 By th e e n d o f th e day the Palace o f Justice as well as
th e Reichspost b uildin g h a d b een b u rn e d , 89 p ersons h a d b e e n killed, a n d
5 00 to 1,000 w oun d ed . O n the previous day a ju r y trial in V ienna had fo u n d
th re e right-w ing activists, accused o f m u rd e rin g a socialist m an a n d boy,
in n o c e n t o f all w ro n g d o in g . A fiery editorial in Die Arbeiter-Zeitung o n the
m o rn in g o f July 15 d e n o u n c e d the acquittal as an o u tra g e o u s exam ple o f
class justice. S po n taneo usly w orkers left th e ir factories, shops, an d hom es
a n d m ade th eir way along the fashionable Ringstrasse to the squ are facing
th e Palace o f Justice.
In the b e g in n in g stages o f this developing c o n fro n ta tio n betw een the
V iennese w orking class a n d the real a n d symbolic agents o f law an d o rd e r,
th e socialist leadersh ip avoided taking a stand. O tto B au er actually hid from
a d elegation o f electrical w orkers who cam e to party h e a d q u a rte rs to
d e m a n d o rd e rs to sh u t dow n p ow er p la n ts.140 T h e m any th o usan d s who h ad
g a th e re d in fr o n t o f th e Palace o f Ju stice by n o o n w ere left to act as a sp o n
ta n e o u s mass; n o o n e c o uld blam e the SDAP fo r having o rd e re d o r plan n ed
anything. T h e police was com pletely u n p r e p a r e d a n d th e re fo re u n d e r
m a n n e d because th e ir chief, Jo h a n n e s S chober, h a d been told by SDAP
leaders th a t n o official d e m o n stra tio n was planned.
M o u n te d police seeking to clear the key streets set off the violence, d u r
ing th e c o u rse o f which the police w ere in stru c te d by th eir superiors to fire
h urried ly issued arm y rifles point-blank into the crowds, while various build
ings w ere set ablaze. In the h e a t o f the struggle th e re was a w idespread
d e m a n d by w orkers a n d m em b ers o f th e S ch u tz b u n d (created by the SDAP
in 1923 precisely to p ro te c t the w orkers in situations such as this) fo r the
d istrib u tio n o f arms. Socialist a n d tra d e u n io n leaders refu sed to a pp rov e a
c o urse which n o d o u b t w ould have led to civil war. D iso rd er a n d violence
c o n tin u e d in th e working-class districts th ro u g h o u t th e 16th. A national
strike o f tra n sp o rta tio n a n d in fo rm atio n services, called the same day fo r an
indefinite perio d, was m ad e ineffective outside V ienna, even in industrial
towns, by heavily a rm e d H eim w eh r u nits acting as auxiliary police.
In the a fte rm a th ihe SDAP so u gh t by to u g h language to force C hancel
lor Ignaz Seipel to m ake concessions such as calling new elections, g ra n tin g
a general amnesty, o r initiating a parliam entary investigation. But Seipel
sto o d his g ro u n d an d refused any real c o m p ro m ise .1'" It was a p p a re n t that
m unicipal socialism an d the socialist party cu ltu re in Vienna had m ade no

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difference in th e c o n fro n ta tio n o f Ju ly 15. Seipel becam e inclined to d e p e n d


m o re on the H eim w ehr, which h a d p ro v ed so effective in break in g the gen
eral strike in th e provinces, a n d took steps to assure the political conserva
tism o f th e m unicipal police a n d th e national army.
T h e fo rtu n e s o f th e SDAP seem ed to have c h ang ed overnight. In b oth
the V iennese a n d th e national elections o f April 1927 th e party seem ed to
be well o n the way to attain in g B a u e rs aspired-to, magical 51 percen t. In
Vienna, in fact, th e p arty gained 123,000 votes a n d scored 60.3 p e rc e n t.142
Nationally, the SDAP re a c h e d 42.3 p e rc e n t o f the vote, c o m p a re d to 39.6
p e rc e n t in 1923; Seipels unity list o f C hristian Socials a n d Pan-G erm ans
received 48.2 p e rc e n t, dow n fro m 57.8 p e rc e n t in 1923. But Seipel was able
to govern with a clear parliam entary m ajority o f 94 to 71 by including the
A grarian L eague in his cabinet. F u rth e rm o re , July 15 called B a u e rs o p ti
mistic re a d in g o f the balance o f class forces in to question: the state h a d n ot
b e e n n eu tral; th e opp o sition h a d m ad e use o f e x traparliam entary force; the
m u ch-v au n ted socialist defense o f last re s o rt the S c h u tz b u n d had
revealed itself to be a hollow th reat.
A p o stm o rte m o f th e setback at th e O c to b e r p arty congress tu rn e d into
a c o n fro n ta tio n b etw een R e n n e r a n d Max A d le r.143 T h e fo rm e r charged
that th e Ju ly 15 rising was a d irect con se q u e n c e o f th e d a n g e ro u s ed u ca
tional a n d cultural policy the p arty h a d p u rsu e d u n d e r B a u e rs leadership,
a n d th a t unrealistic talk o f revolution h a d led the w orkers into an ad v en tu re
which risked civil war. H e also reje c te d th e idea that the w orkers r e q u ire d a
special e d u c a tio n to p re p a re th em fo r socialism, insisting that econom ic
co nditions alone w ould be sufficient to create w o rk er consciousness. Lastly,
R e n n e r cu t th e g r o u n d fro m u n d e r b o th the balance-of-forces th eo ry an d
th e V iennese cu ltu ral ex p e rim e n t by d e m a n d in g that the party e n te r into a
coalition g o v ern m en t, a m ove which w ould have re q u ire d a decisive re tre a t
fro m th e SD A Ps program s.
A dler r e s p o n d e d with an im passioned defense o f the V iennese workers,
w ho w ere generally b ein g m aligned in the party as u n d iscip lin ed .144 R en
n e r s r e tre a t fro m a revolutionary ed ucational a n d cultural policy, he
charg ed, risked the in tegration o f th e w orkers into capitalist society and
th e ir tra n sfo rm a tio n in to petty bourgeois. Class strug g le, he rem in d ed
th e party, is c ultural d e v e lo p m e n t. . . [and is] by its very n a tu re som ething
th o ro u g h ly intellectual . . . th e re fo rm o f consciousness. 145 In rejecting
R e n n e r s call fo r a new coalition, A d ler was jo in e d by B auer in p o in tin g ou t
th a t th e cost o f sacrificing the whole m unicipal socialist p ro g ra m as well as
general advances in creatin g a p ro le ta ria n c u ltu re in V ienna m ade such a
step u n th in k ab le. T h e h e a te d controversy shed n o new light a n d was te r
m in ated in B a u e rs usual fashion by a synthesis o f opposites, calling both
R e n n e rs a n d A d le rs orie n ta tio n necessary to Marxism an d the party.
Som e have called July 15, 1927, th e tu rn in g p o in t in the history o f the
First R ep u blic.148 Clearly m any weaknesses in the socialists position as a
parly and political force had been exposed, and hoili the balance o f classes
and the th re a t to use defensive l o n e " were pm in question. H en cefo rth

Vienna as Socialist Laboratory

43

the relationship betw een cultural a n d political activity shifted markedly


to w ard the form er, a n d re d V ienna becam e m o re o f a b e leagu ered enclave.
Even O tto Bauer, th e m aster o f theoretical optim ism a n d tactical c o m p ro
mise, h a d b e e n challenged a n d fo rced to rely on party discipline to safe
g u a rd the hallowed unity, th e c h ief catechism in the p a rty s litany.147
T h e n a tu r e o f such lo n g views tends to re d u c e p o ig n an t choices a n d
co m p lex beliefs in th e in terest o f categorical analysis. I f one exam ined the
significance o f July 15 fro m the p o in t o f view o f a third-level SDAP official,
a low -ranking m e m b e r o f th e Viennese health o r h o u sin g service, o r a fac
tory w ork er org anized in b o th his trad e u n io n a n d the party, with all o f them
looking at A ustria fro m th e perspective o f Vienna, o n e might n o t find the
sense o f catastro ph ic d escen t that later stu d e n ts o f th e events fo u n d to be
so inescapable. T hese participants, with d irect exp erien ce in the tra n sfo r
m ation o f V ienna since 1919, m ight well have e n u m e ra te d a great variety o f
gains th e w orking class e x p erien ced in th a t sh o rt time: the massive grow th
in size o f b o th th e tra d e u nions a n d th e SDAP; the m ain ten an ce o f re n t c o n
tro l a n d increasing public housing; the extension o f social welfare; the
e x p a n d e d possibilities fo r education; a n d the various socialist associations
w hich a tte m p te d to e d u c a te a n d in te g ra te th e w orking p o p u latio n within
th e party. Even those w orkers surely the g reat m ajority who ex peri
e n c e d n o n e o r very few o f these gains directly, perceived a sea change in the
daily social clim ate o f V ienna, w here the m ayor a n d m ost officials who
c o u n te d w ere socialists, len d in g an entirely new dignity to th e status o f
w orkers.
In view o f this new sense o f collective im p o rtan ce in th e city, it is difficult
to im agine th at th e m o o d in working-class n eig h b o rh o o d s was simply pes
simistic over th e events o f Ju ly 15. I f o n e w ere to speculate a b o u t that p o p
u la r mentality, o n e m ight con clud e th a t a feeling o f confidence was mixed
with a sense o f f r u s tra tio n .148 T h e re was anger, particularly in the Schutzb u n d a n d a m o n g o th e r activists, d irected in p a rt at th e socialist leaders fo r
failing to react to th e generally perceived provocation. But in the m ain it
was leveled at the p o p u la r V iennese w o rk ers stereo typ e o f the o p p o sitio n
the D o rftro ttln u n d W asserschadln (village idiots an d hydrocephalics)
d ressed in le a th e r p a n ts o r d irn dl a n d d ecked o u t with a big cross to m ark
th e ir tru e allegiance. T h e re was (mistakenly) n o th in g in the m akeup o f the
V iennese w o rkers u r b a n m entality to m ake th e m afraid o f this comically
perceived th re a t fro m th e provinces. T hese differing perspectives from
within working-class com m unities kept pessimism at bay in 1927 a n d
allowed th e building o f socialism, as th e n perceived, to con tin u e in m uch
the sam e spirit as the g reat leap fo rw ard tow ard m unicipal socialism u n d e r
taken in 1919.
H aving g one to som e pains to assess the n a tu re an d relationship o f Austro m a rx ism s theory a n d practice, I reg ret having to caution the re a d e r
against e x pectin g an orderly causal relationship betw een the two. T he
socialists took over th e adm inistration o f V ienna in 1919 in the midst o f
postw ar uncertainty. T hey w ere fo rced to govern, to face the e n o rm o u s

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social p rob lem s b efo re them , w ithout being able to wait fo r party doyens
a n d theorists to h a m m e r o u t e n ab lin g theory. As I have a tte m p te d to d e m
o nstra te , they w ere pragm atists in the spirit o f A ustrom arxism ; the th e o re t
ical justificatio n fo r th e ir decisions o fte n lim ped b eh in d the events. As we
tu r n to the u n iq u e V iennese ex p e rim e n ta tio n with m unicipal socialism, it
will b ecom e clear th a t d u rin g its early years practical im provisation was
based on th e choices left o p e n by the vagueness o f the A ustrom arxist h e ri
tage. Being u n fe tte re d by an inflexible th eoretical fram ew ork was an a dvan
tage in dealing with u n p re d ic ta b le a n d ch anging realities in daily practice.
But as we shall see, th at fre e d o m gave im m ense po w er to a small g ro u p o f
leaders to fashion m unicipal refo rm s using themselves, th e ir personalities
a n d no rm s o f socialization, as th e yardstick. T he d a n g e r loom ed large that,
in stead o f the A ustrom arxist aim o f liberating th e w orkers to act with a
h ig h e r consciousness, a paternalist pragm atism w ould a tte m p t to impose
p ro g ra m s a n d refo rm s on w orkers w ithout including them in the process.

CHAPTER 3

Municipal Socialism

T h e pro blem s facing th e V iennese m unicipal g ov ern m ent d u rin g th e first


p ostw ar years w ere truly daunting. It took endless m on th s to regulate an d
re d u c e the inw ard a n d o u tw a rd flow o f populations, to assure the provi
sioning o f the city with victuals fro m th e provinces, and to re tu rn tra n sp o r
tatio n a n d th e vital m unicipal utilities to the re q u ire m e n ts o f peacetim e. T he
solution o f these transito ry problem s p roved m o re difficult in V ienna than
in o th e r capitals because o f th e newness o f the republic a n d V ienn as place
within it, m aking fo r the absence o f tim e-w orn p ro c e d u re s to be used as
models. T he socialists, who h e a d e d every im p o rta n t d e p a rtm e n t in the
m unicipal council, p u t th e lie to th e co m m on shibboleth a b o u t socialists
being g o o d at thinking a n d talking b u t inco m p e te n t when it cam e to p ra c
tical m atters, by co m p etently resto rin g the norm al course o f m unicipal life.
But very difficult a n d seemingly intractable problem s rem ained to challenge
th e ir c o m m itm en t to im proving the quality o f life fo r all V ien nas citizens:1
th e co n d itio n o f public health, u n d e rm in e d by w artim e ex perience and
lon g -term diseases such as tuberculosis; the n e e d o f public welfare fo r the
indigent, hom eless, a n d helpless; a n d the d e te rio ra tio n o f the public school
system, which h a d n ev er viewed equality o f o p p o rtu n ity as p a rt o f its
mission.
O vershadow ing all these problem s a n d c o n trib u tin g to th e ir gravity was
th e severe h o u sin g shortage. A lth ou g h w artim e dislocations had red u ced
the p o p u la tio n o f V ienna by som e 165,000, the n u m b e r o f h ouseholders
increased by fro m 4 0 ,0 0 0 to 60,0 00 at a time w hen th e n u m b e r o f vacant
domiciles was n ev er m u ch above zero.2 This anom aly had several causes.
Im m ig ran ts to V ienna fro m the succession states a p p e a re d as families,
w hereas em igrants to th e succession states w ere single p erso ns w ho sought
th e ir fo rtu n e th e re a n d usually left families behind. A 5 0 - 9 0 p e rc e n t
increase in m arriages im m ediately a fte r th e war fu r th e r increased the
d e m a n d fo r housing. Most im p o rta n t, th e drastic red u ctio n in ren ts d u e to
the c o m b ined effect o f r e n t c o n tro l a n d inflation let m any h ou seh old ers rid
themselves o f su b te n a n ts a n d b e d re n te rs in a climate o f rising expecta
tio n s .' T he p ro b le m was fueled on the supply side by th e virtual standstill in

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Red Vienna

h o u sin g co n stru c tio n fro m 1915 to 1924. In the d ecade b e fo re the war a
yearly average o f 9 ,3 0 0 domiciles h a d b e e n built fo r the private housing
m a rk e t.4
It is to th e socialists credit that they recognized the d e te rm in in g role
h o u sin g w ould have to play in th e ir a tte m p t to make V ienna th e showcase
fo r m unicipal socialism. T h eir plans a n d expectations w ent fu rth e r. D ecent
h o u sin g becam e the c o rn e rs to n e o f the SD A Ps p ro ject to create the
o rd en tlich e A rbeiterfam ilie, a p hrase co n n o tin g n o t only orderliness but
also decency and respectability.5 In o th e r words, the socialists aim ed beyond
m unicipal refo rm s tow ard an all-encom passing p ro le ta ria n c u ltu re in which
the physical co n te x t o f a certain type o f hab itatio n would play a central o rg a
nizing role. E nvironm entalism was an im p o rta n t aspect o f A ustrom arxist
subjectivism a n d was th e u n w ritte n basis o f m unicipal reform . Theoretically
it h a d a g re a te r affinity to neo-L am arkianism th a n to Darwin, whose theory
m ad e n o allowance fo r h u m a n in terv en tio n in evolution an d p re c lu d e d the
socialists belief th at they could be th e midwives in the creatio n o f n eu e
M en sch en . As we shall see in c h a p te r 6, o n th e questio n o f b irth co ntrol
th e city fathers, led by Ju liu s T an d ler, the councilor fo r health a n d social
welfare, a d o p te d a eugenic view akin to social Darwinism .6
T h e idea o f c reatin g a total cultural en v iro n m e n t grew gradually an d
h ap h azard ly o u t o f the socialist city fa th e rs a ttem p ts to b rin g som e relief to
the h o usin g crisis. W hereas th e re m ight have been a th eoretical affinity
betw een these two aims, in practice they w ere frequ ently at odds, as th e chal
lenge to m ake available the largest n u m b e r o f livable domiciles (with at least
som e o f th e basic am enities o f th e pro m ised d e c e n t life) conflicted with a
grow ing socialist co m m itm ent to c reatin g a special kind o f living env iro n
m e n t fo r the co n tro lled socialization o f th e working-class family. W ith o ut a
d o u b t th e n a tu re o f public hou sin g in Vienna, n o t only because o f its obvi
ous visibility b u t also because o f the underly ing reasons fo r its particu lar
characteristics, becam e th e to u c h sto n e o f th e a tte m p t to create a socialist
p arty culture.

P u b lic H o u sin g : E n v iro n m en t for n eu e M e n sc h e n


B etw een 1919 a n d 1934 th e m unicipality built 63,92 4 new domiciles in
V ienna, 5 8 ,6 6 7 o f which w ere in a p a rtm e n t dwellings a n d 5 ,2 5 7 in one-fam ily ho u ses.7 In practical term s this m eant that every te n th dwelling was a new
c reatio n o f th e public a uth orities a n d th a t alm ost 2 0 0,00 0 V iennese were
f o rtu n a te e n o u g h to reside in th e m .8 O n e c a n n o t b u t be im pressed by the
g e n u in e accom plishm ent e m b o d ie d in these statistics. T h e socialists h o u s
ing p ro g ra m was truly rem arkable, b u t it hardly m ade V ienna the Mekka
to which socialists th e w orld o v er w ere d ra w n , as a leading socialist p ubli
cist claim ed.9 A lmost from the beginning, th e g e nu ine attain m en ts in ho us
ing an d o th e r m unicipal end eav ors were e m b e d d e d in a mythology that
e x ag gerated th eir im p o rtan ce a n d refu sed to c o u n te n a n c e e ith e r criticism

Municipal Socialism

47

o r a c o n fro n ta tio n with th e significant social problem s which the well-inten


tio n e d m unicipal refo rm s h a d be e n un able to alter. T o m arvel at th e n u m
b e r o f V iennese w orkers a c c o m o dated by the new housing, fo r instance,
w ithout taking n o te o f th e fact that th e n u m b e r o f hom eless accom m odated
in shelters h a d trip le d b etw een 1924 a n d 1934 to 77,4 19 p e r m o nth , o r that
only 18 p e rc e n t o f w o rker hou seho lds had gas, electricity, an d ru n n in g
w ater, while an equal n u m b e r h a d n o n e o f these, was a co m m o n charactertistic o f all socialist pu b lication s.10 Such obfuscation has c o n tin u e d dow n to
th e p re se n t day in the w ork o f otherw ise responsible historians who te n d to
m ake heroic precisely w hat they have set o u t to analyze and evaluate.11
T h e socialist m unicipal g o v ern m en t was largely reactive to the housing
crisis until 1923. In ad d itio n to th e reasons already given fo r th e rapid
increase in hou sin g seekers, th e ren t-c o n tro l law m ade it possible for
crow d ed w orker families to dispense with the su b te n a n ts a n d bed ren ters
they h a d form erly n e e d e d to pay the rent. T hese persons w ere th ro w n o nto
a h ou sin g m arket in which the re n ts o f subtenancies in larg er a p artm en ts
w ere n o t controlled. T h e dire hou sing needs w ere fu r th e r aggravated by
com pletely su b sta n d a rd accom odations such as cellar flats, barracks, huts,
a n d wagons, which to g e th e r h o u se d nearly 10,000 V iennese families.12
M oreover, domiciles in th e heavily p o p u la te d working-class districts c o n
sisted overwhelm ingly o f two ro o m s (living ro o m /k itc h e n a n d b e d ro o m o r
h a lf b e dro om ) o r less.13 W ith te n a n ts p ro te c te d fro m eviction an d thereby
lib erated fro m th e previous virtual gypsy life, rising expectations cre a te d a
C ourtyard in one o f the poorest tenements (VGA)

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Red Vienna

h ith e rto u n know n h o use-prou d ness a n d a desire fo r privacy and fo r m ore


sp ace.14 T he cum ulative effect o f nearly 100 p e rc e n t occupancy, old and
new d em an d s f o r housing, a n d p o p u la r expectations fo r a m o re settled life
was a c o n sta n t increase in domicile seekers fro m 42 ,6 4 2 in 1922 to 68,175
in 1 9 2 4 .15 T he ready m eans o f dealing with this situation available to the
m unicipal au tho rities allowed them only to re sp o n d to the gravest cases.
In a n a tte m p t to literally p u t a r o o f over th eir heads im m ediately a fter
the war, th o u sa n d s o f w orkers becam e squatters o n public land o n the
pe rip h e ry o f th e city a n d p ro c e e d e d to e re c t ru d e shelters o f various kinds.
Som e o f these settlem ents took o n p e rm a n e n c e with the assistance o f loans
from cooperative societies a n d tra d e un ion s in the spirit o f the garden-city
m ovem ent e m ergin g in o th e r E u ro p e a n cities.16 T he SDAP g re e te d the set
tlers m ovem ent with a certain a m o u n t o f suspicion as a d e g e n e ra tio n into
petty b ou rg eo is aspirations. At stake n o d o u b t was th e p a rty s role as plan
n e r a n d mover, which s p o n ta n e o u s innovation o utside the party stru c tu re
seem ed to th re a te n . A fte r 1924 the municipality took over the building o f
one-fam ily h o usin g com m unities, b u t soon a b a n d o n e d such efforts on the
g ro u n d s th at they w ere to o costly in com p ariso n to superblock ap a rtm e n t
buildings. T h a t the la tte r w ere c h e a p e r a n d th e re fo re served larger n u m b ers
c a n n o t b e c o n tro v erted . B ut o n e senses th a t the reasons were m o re com
p licated and that the self-m anagem ent prevailing in the garden-city enclaves
was a c o n trib u tin g cause: it was seen alm ost as a kind o f anarchism d isru p t
ing the custom ary channels o f party activity. F rom 1919 o nw ard the m unic
ipality a tte m p te d to u n d e rta k e som e building with the aid o f m ortgages, b ut
discovered th at th e available funds w ere very lim ited an d the carrying costs
m u ch to o high to allow fo r low r e n ts .17
T h e m ost im p o rta n t m eans o f dealing with th e ho usin g crisis available to
th e city g o v ern m en t was a series o f em ergency decrees o f 1 9 1 8 -1 9 allowing
th e m unicipality to in terject itself b etw een landlords a n d tenants. Based on
th e assum ed right to requisition em pty o r u n u se d habitations, a housing
requisitio nin g law (Wohnungsanforderungsgesetz) was passed in 1921 at the
national level, giving m unicipalities p o w er over th e hou sing m arket. But
even b e fo re that, the V iennese hou sing b u re a u h a d assum ed co n tro l over
all h o u sin g relations, including the registration a n d assignm ent o f all vacant
dw ellings.18 T h e socialist adm inistratio n was able to use this law to great
advantage in m aking a p a rtm e n ts available on th e basis o f a p o int system. By
th e e n d o f 1923 som e 3 0,0 0 0 domiciles h a d b e e n assigned to tenants; by the
e n d o f th e p ro g ra m in 1925, the n u m b e r h a d risen to 44,838. T h ro u g h the
ingenious use o f this requisitio n in g law, th e Viennese h o u sin g office was
able to alleviate som e o f th e p ressu re. B ut m any o f the domiciles assigned
to th e n eedy w ere already in hab ited by th em as subtenants, a n d little addi
tional h o u sin g was c re a te d by this m eans. T h e C hristian Social party, how
ever, tre a te d it as a brutal law o f e x p ro p ria tio n and ex acerb ated its attacks
o n rent c o n tro l to the p o in t o f forcing th e socialists to give way in p arliam ent
in 1925 on the renew al o f the requisition ing law.19
D e s p ite th e s e valian t e ffo rts to r e d u c e th e n u m b e r o f th o s e s e e k in g d o m -

Municipal Socialism

49

idles, it was already clear at the e n d o f 1922 (with over 4 2 ,0 00 registered)


th a t drastic steps w ould have to b e taken by the m unicipality to create new
dwellings a n d to im p rov e s u b sta n d a rd ones. Two c o n c u rre n t developm ents
m ad e th e times p ro p itio u s f o r initiating a h o usin g p rogram : V ienna had
atta in e d the status o f capital a n d province with th e p ow er to raise certain
taxes, a n d A ustrian c u rre n c y was stabilized th ro u g h foreign loans, redu cin g
th e financial instability o f th e inflationary period. In the a u tu m n o f 1923
th e city council passed a u n iq u e m e th o d o f taxation to s u p p o rt the building
o f 25,0 0 0 dom iciles o v er a five-year period ; actual building com m enced in
the following sp ring .20
T h e creative financial plan o f City C ouncillor H u g o B re itn e r rejected
th e traditional m e th o d o f m o rtg a g e financing, with its b u rd e n so m e carrying
charges, a n d relied o n an an nu al housin g tax b o rn e by all householders.
A lth ou g h this tax was steeply progressive, so th at the wealthiest few paid an
a m o u n t equivalent to all working-class c o n trib ution s, it raised only a b o u t 20
p e rc e n t o f a r e n t tax collected fro m land lord s a n d passed on to tenants
b e fo re th e w ar.21 T h e re su ltin g building fu n d was su p p le m e n te d by luxury
taxes levied against all objects a n d m eans o f e n te rta in m e n t associated with
middle-class c o n spicuo u s c o n su m p tio n .22 D espite the ingeniousness o f
B re itn e rs schem e, which e a rm a rk e d th e e n tire incom e o f these two taxes
fo r th e building fu nd , alm ost h a lf o f it had to be fu rn ish ed from the m unic
ipal b u d g e t.23 In th e ir en th u siasm over p roviding basic needs f o r w orkers at
the ex p en se o f the bourgeoisie, the socialists overlooked the fact that the
building p ro g ra m was at least in p a rt d e p e n d e n t on th e tax a p p o rtio n m e n t
com ing to V ienna as p rovince from th e federal gov ern m en t. T h e ir ju b ila
tion a b o u t this V iennese co u p a n d its c o n stan t refrain in the socialist press
increased pressu res by th e ir o p p o n e n ts o n th e n ational level fo r th e aboli
tion o f r e n t c o n tro l a n d its associated benefits.24
T h e municipal h o u sin g p ro g ra m cam e into being in 1924 because the
ho usin g m arket h a d collapsed an d m akeshift solutions h a d ru n th eir course,
a n d no t because a lo ng-standing socialist strategy had b een m oved to the
to p o f th e SDAP a g e n d a .25 In fact, the party was largely u n p r e p a r e d f o r the
role which the m unicipal g o v ern m en t h a d to play. B efore the w ar th e Austrom arxists h a d paid little a tte n tio n to piecem eal refo rm s in the expectation
that h o u sin g a n d o th e r social needs would be satisfied by a general social
t ra n s fo rm a tio n .26
Between 1870 a n d th e tu r n o f the century, the hou sin g question had
be e n widely discussed by liberal refo rm ers, who h a d p u t fo rw ard various
schem es fo r im proving th e living c onditions o f th e low er classes. O n e p ro
posal o f 1874 called fo r the c o n stru ctio n o f w o rk er b arrack s including
c o m m u n al facilities such as laundries, bathhouses, clinics, c en tral heating,
a n d co m m on d in in g ro o m s.27 T h e S tiftu n g sh o f a n d L obm eyerhof, two
h o u sin g com plexes fo r the low er classes cre a te d by a private fo u n d a tio n in
1896, w ere even m o re exem plary fo r the socialists as they devised their
h o u sin g plans in 1923. T hese two projects occu p ied only 45 p ercen t o f their
allotted land (instead o f th e usual 85 percent), a n d the re m a in d e r was used

50

Red Vienna

as an in te rio r c o u rty a rd with g reenery a n d gardens. In this typical Viennese


in te rio r co u rty a rd various c o m m o n facilities w ere g ro u p e d , including com
m unal kitchens, central baths, a m edical dispensary, a library, a lectu re hall,
free-e n te rp rise shops, a n d a male a n d female old-age h o m e .28 Tw o-thirds o f
th e 383 a p a rtm e n ts consisted o f a living ro o m /k itc h e n an d b ed ro o m . Rents
w ere a b o u t 10 p e rc e n t below th e m arket price, an d su b te n a n ts were p ro
hibited.
It seems clear th a t the m unicipal h o u sin g e re c te d by the socialist m u nic
ipal adm in istration betw een the wars was n o t particularly original. It rested
on liberal re fo rm ideas a n d ex perim ents at the tu rn o f th e cen tury and, as
we shall see, even fro m th e p o in t o f view o f layout a nd design c o n tin u e d the
c o u rty a rd trad itio n o f Viennese dom estic a n d public a rc h ite c tu re .29 T o
p o in t to such traditionalism is n o t to dim inish th e c o n trib u tio n o f h u m a n i
tarian co n cern s to the socialists c o n c e p tio n o f d e c e n t hou sing fo r th e work
ing class.
As in so m u ch else, O tto B au er set the to n e in his p ro jectio n o f the road
to socialism p ublished as th e SDAP cam e to pow er in V ienna.30 H e p ro p o sed
the m eans by which th e m unicipality m ight o btain land, avoid m ortgage
costs by raising new taxes, a n d thus assure th at the ren ts fo r w orkers would
b e based on o p e ra tin g costs alo n e tech niq ues which the socialist city
fathers w ere to use so effectively to make a substantial building pro g ra m
possible. Claim ing d e c e n t h o u sin g to b e a f u n d am en tal right o f all citizens,
B auer d e m a n d e d th e building o f m unicipal h o usin g projects which would
include (in every building block) central kitchens a n d laundries, central
heating, play a n d classroom s f o r children, co m m o n d in in g room s, read in g
a n d gam e roo m s fo r adults, a n d th e cooks, laundresses, a n d child-care spe
cialists re q u ire d fo r the fu n c tio n in g o f these com m unal facilities. T he
actual o p e ra tio n as well as th e institution, supervision, a n d co n tro l o f com
m unal facilities a n d activities was to be c a rrie d o u t by th e te n a n ts th e m
selves, o rganized in com m ittees c o n stitu tin g a decentralized fo rm o f a d m in
istration. B au er saw im m ediate benefits arising fro m w hat he called partial
socialization : w orking w om en would n o lo n g er be victims o f the double
b u rd e n o f j o b a n d ho usehold; ch ild ren would be b e tte r provided for; an d
at long last m en w ould be able to enjoy a c om fo rtab le hom e.
O n c e the first g r o u n d was b ro k e n in 1924, the speed o f erecting the
h o u sin g p ro jects e x ceeded th e estim ated an n u a l 5,000 a partm en ts. B efore
lo n g th e first inau g u ra tio n s o f new superblocks beg an to a p p e a r in the
socialist press, with p h o to g ra p h s o f ju b ila n t lucky ten an ts s u rro u n d e d by
masses o f th e less f o rtu n a te b u t p ro u d , all being a d d ressed by Mayor Seitz
o r som e o th e r m unicipal socialist lead er in an a tm o sp h e re o f p o p u la r cele
b ra tio n .31 In d e e d , a substantial n u m b e r o f fo rm e r residents o f m unicipal
housing, o n re c o rd in extensive oral history interviews, attest to the tre m e n
d o u s im pact o f the grow th o f w hat a m o u n te d to new w o rker enclaves dis
p ersed th r o u g h o u t V ienna.32 W hereas various stran ds o f evidence now
info rm us about public reaction to the building p ro g ram , we know very little

Municipal Socialism

51

Inauguration ceremony o f R eum annhof (VGA)

a b o u t th e p lan n in g within th e SDAP a n d th e m unicipal council which m ust


have p re c e d e d such a large a n d costly public en terp rise.
A host o f q uestions arise, on ce o n e looks at the p h o to g ra p h s a n d plans
o f th e h o u sin g dev elo p m en ts revealing th e a rchitectu ral styles, size, an d
facilities o f th e ap artm e n ts. H ow w ere decisions arrived at? Was th e re o p en
discussion in th e SDAP, a n d at what levels? Was the subject aired in the
press? W ere th e re lengthy d ebates o r controversies in th e m unicipal c o u n
cil? Was any a tte m p t m ade to survey the poten tial w orker p o p u latio n o f
these new h o u sin g p ro je c ts to d e te rm in e th e ir needs a n d preferences? In
sh o rt, did the decision-m aking process reflect som e special socialist o rie n
tation, o r was it left to th e g oo d in tention s o f an oligarchical structure?
S tran ge as it may seem, these questions have n o t b e e n ad dressed in the
existing literature. T h e reason is n o t h a rd to find: th e re is a d e a rth o f
sources fo r a detailed analysis o f th e decision-m aking process. O n e looks in
vain th ro u g h the ca le n d a r o f discussions o f th e m unicipal council fo r evi
d e n c e o f extensive tre a tm e n t b o th o f the building p ro g ra m a n d its objec
tives, a n d o f the details o f its c o n te n ts.33 T h e actual discussions which took
place seem to have b e e n desultory, because the socialists knew they had the
necessary votes, o r because they were in te rru p te d by the C hristian Social
o pp o sition with o u tra g e o u s objections raised o u t o f sh e e r fru stra tio n .34 A
case in p o int is th e pro po sal b e fo re th e municipal council in 1923 a n d again
in 1925 to help finance a cooperative building with a centralized kitchen and
o th e r com m unal facilities the fam ous Einkuchenhaus Heimhof.35 T he orig
inal s tru c tu re c o n ta in e d thirty-five one- a n d tw o-room a p a rtm e n ts with a

52

Red Vienna

cen tral kitchen a n d din in g room , light cooking facilities in each ap artm e n t,
a c entral laundry, a n d a staff o f h o u sek eepers a n d cooks w ho professionally
p e rfo rm e d th e no rm al ho u sew ork o f each ten ant.
In o th e r w ords, th e H e im h o f c o n fo rm e d rem arkably to the partial
socialization B auer h a d p ro p o s e d f o u r years earlier. But the socialist ra p
p o r te u r o f the d e m a n d fo r c redits to the cooperative never c o n sidered the
advantages o f this m odel o r the feasibility o f e x te n d in g the ex perim ent. H e
merely re s p o n d e d to an e arlier ob jection by th e Christian Social councilw om an, G abriele W alter, th a t th e b u ild ing s collective a rra n g e m e n ts u n d e r
m ined th e housewifely fu n c tio n o f w om en, by a rgu ing th at only a small n u m
b e r o f peo p le w ere involved in the v e n tu re a n d th at the p o p u la tio n at large
w ould n o t b e aifected by it o n e way o r th e o th e r.38 H e im h o f was again on
th e council ag end a in 1925, w hen m unicipal financing fo r the extension o f
th e cooperative to 246 a p a rtm e n ts was pro p o sed . Again, th e re was n o real
d e b a te a bo u t the m erit o f this type o f housing, only o bstructionist a rg u
m en ts from th e m inority a n d a d e m a n d fo r th e acceptance o f an atypical
h o u sin g v e n tu re by th e socialist m ajority.37
T h e a p a rtm e n ts in H e im h o f tu r n e d o u t to be to o expensive fo r w orker
b udgets, because the c o n stru c tio n techniques a n d m aintenan ce o f a single
small com plex w ere to o costly. But th e high quality o f life fo r its fo rtu n a te
te n a n ts was n e v e r in d o u b t. T he e x p an sio n o f 1925 in clu d ed a r o o f terrace
with showers, a n d b etw een mealtim es co n v erted the attractive d inin g ro o m
in to a cafe amply su pp lied with c u rre n t re a d in g m aterial.38 T he idea o f p r o
fessionalization o f h ou sew ork in th e new building projects o f the m unici
pality d ie d w ith this ex p erim en t. But th e SDAP h a d nev er really p re se n te d
th e positive aspects o f this h ou sin g m od el to th e workers. O n e searches in
vain th ro u g h th e pages o f Die Arbeiter-Zeitung, fo r instance, fo r a discussion
a b o u t ad a p tin g th e H e im h o f partial socialization fo r mass housing. W hat
o n e finds is th e negative assessm ent o f such possibilities by th e socialist lum i
nary O tto N e u ra th .39 T h e workers, h e claimed, did n o t w ant such centraliza
tion o f personal n eed s o n a com m u nal basis; such innovations could only be
realized in the fu tu re. But how did N e u ra th o r any socialist party fu n c tio n
ary o r m unicipal councillor know w hat th e w orkers w a n te d ?
W h e th e r working-class w om en u n d e rs to o d th e possible advantages o f
professionalized housew ork (especially com m unal kitchens) rem ains d o u b t
ful. L e ic h te rs study o f industrial w orkers reveals a great deal o f confusion
a b o u t w hat such socialization w ould involve.40 Som e w om en expressed the
fe a r th at it w ould ro b th e m o f th e individuality a n d feeling o f co n tro l ex p e
rien ced at ho m e, replacing it with th e m o n o to n y a n d com plusion they ex p e
rien ced in the w orkplace; o th e rs th o u g h t th e cost w ould be to o high.
Y ounger, single w om en w ere m o re favorably disposed to th e idea. But n o n e
seem ed to be well info rm ed , to have re a d a b o u t the possibility o f com bining
family individuality a n d collective facilities, o r to know a b o u t the existence
of H eim hof.
T h r o u g h o u t th e tw o b u ild in g p e rio d s f ro m 1924 to 1 9 3 3 , w h e n th e 3 7 7
h o u s in g p ro je c ts w e re p la n n e d a n d b u ilt, th e S D A I failed to c o n d u c t a sin

Municipal Socialism

53

gle survey e ith e r at workplaces o r in working-class neig h b o rh o o d s about


w ork er ex p ectatio n s a n d needs c o n c e rn in g the ho usin g b ein g created p rin
cipally fo r them . It was n o t the lack o f tra in e d social scientists in sympathy
with th e SDAP which p re v e n te d such investigations, fo r they w ere carried
o u t o n o th e r subjects at th e direct o r indirect re q u e st o f the party lead er
s h i p / 1 It stem m ed fro m the tran sfo rm ation al heritage o f A ustrom arxism
ac c o rd in g to which th e w orkers h a d to be e d u c a te d by th e party to reach a
h ig h er state o f being than th eir p re se n t precivilized o r at best u n fo rm e d
state (see c h a p te r 2).
T h a t ex plained why the w orkers did n o t ne e d to b e consu lted a bo u t the
dom iciles being p re p a re d o n th e ir behalf, a b o u t o th e r aspects o f the m un ic
ipal re fo rm p ro g ra m , o r a b o u t th e institutional party netw ork fashioned to
b rin g w orkers into a p ro le ta ria n c u ltu re that w ould b o th tra n sfo rm an d
in c o rp o ra te th em as n e u e M en schen a n d o rd en tlich e Fam ilien. It
rem ains o n e o f the tragic ironies o f this p erio d o f g reat expectations that,
d esp ite th e gen u in e c o m m itm en t to dem ocracy by B auer a n d o th e r princi
pal leaders o f th e SDAP, they failed to translate this belief in to action by
allowing th e w orkers to behave as subjects in w hat was, a fte r all, a com m on
e n te rp rise . Like virtually all in terw ar socialist parties, w here the olgiarchy
knew b e s t a n d always acted in the co m m o n in te re st o f party and rank
a n d file, th e SDAP o p e ra te d as a p artern alist m ach in e.42
Lest this ju d g m e n t be co n sid ered excessively harsh, let us take a quick
look at th e o rgan ization a n d decision-m aking bodies o f the SDAP. T he party
s tru c tu re re m a in e d rem arkably stable fro m its creation by V ictor A dler
b e fo re th e w ar u ntil th e fall o f the republic. It followed a co m m o n form in
which a pow erful executive m ad e all decisions, o p e ra te d th ro u g h a secre
tariat fo r th e ir im plem en tatio n , a n d based its au th o rity on ann u al party c o n
gresses.41 T h e p ow er o f th e executive was tran sm itte d dow n the hierarchical
la d d e r o f th e p arty to th e smallest organizational units: th e district, street,
a n d house. Low er levels h a d n o d irect access to p arty policy; th eir only c o n
n ection lay in the delegates elected to party congresses fro m th eir sectors.
But only slightly m o re th a n h a lf o f such delegates w ere actually elected; the
re m a in d e r w ere assigned along oligarchical principles to m em bers o f the
executive a n d secretariat, th e parliam entary a n d provincial socialist dele
gations, heads o f the tra d e unions, a n d o thers fro m within the party
m achine d e e m e d to be essential.
T h at the c a re e r socialists clearly ran these party congresses betw een
19 19 a n d 1933 can be seen from the following telling exam ples44: n o t a sin
gle can d id a te fo r th e executive was ever p u t forw ard who h a d n o t b een p r o
posed by the n o m in a tin g com m ittee; n o t a single cand id ate o n the official
list was ever n o t elected; n o r was a m e m b e r o f th e executive ever recalled
from office. T he SDAP executive was an exceptionally stable oligarchy. O f
som e twenty m em bers a n d alternates active betw een 1919 a n d 1934, fo u r
re tire d because o f old age a n d five died in office at an advanced age.45
In th e early 1930s th e SDAP had close to 1,500 paid functionaries co m
m a n d in g th e p a rty s political, publication, an d cultural in frastructu re. To

54

Red Vienna

these m ust be a d d e d som e 21,5 0 0 unsalaried cadres (Vertrauensmnner) in


V ienna alone, w ithout whose d e d icated p e rfo rm a n c e o f daily ro u tin es the
far-flung activities o f the party w ould have b een unthinkable. T h ro u g h its
c o n tro l o f the municipal g o v ern m ent the party leadership disposed o f an
u nk n ow n b u t certainly sizable n u m b e r o f civil service jo b s in the adm inis
tra tio n o f the various city b u reau s, th e m ost im p o rta n t a n d lucrative o f
which w ere assigned to m a jo r party functionaries.46 In addition to such oldfashioned patro nag e, the party leaders also designated candidates for
national, provincial, a n d m unicipal elective office. T he sociopsychological
effect o f this econom ic stru c tu re o f the party well-paid functionaries,
u n p a id volunteers, a n d the working-class rank a n d file was to increase the
distance betw een the decision m akers a n d those fo r w hom they spoke and
acted. T h a t the salaries o f paid party functionaries were two a n d a h alf to
f o u r times the wages o f skilled m etalw orkers at a time (1932) when virtually
every th ird party m e m b e r was u nem ployed, helps to explain the s u b je c t/
object attitud es a m o n g party leaders.47
T h e reasons fo r this b rie f d e to u r in to the stru c tu re o f the SDAP will
soon b ecom e a p p a re n t. In initiating a high-quality m unicipal socialism as
well as th e m uch m o re am bitious e x p e rim e n t in working-class c u ltu re em a
n a tin g from it, th e socialists w ere faced with difficult choices. Those c o n
trolling the city g ov ern m en t had to d evelop th eir hou sing a n d o th e r reform
p ro g ra m s with the slen d er tax resou rces o f an im poverished co u n try w here
wages w ere a b o u t 35 p e rc e n t below those in Germany.
Little could be d o n e by the m unicipal council to alter this h arsh eco
nom ic reality. Yet at the same tim e the socialists had tre m e n d o u s pow er in
V ienn a to use these reso u rces o n projects o f their choice a n d in ways they
fo u n d suitable. W e have established th a t th e SD A Ps subjective choices were
m ade by a small oligarchy. U n fortun ately , we can go n o fu r th e r in desig
na tin g the real wielders o f pow er, except to rem ark th at O tto B auer was
certainly central to all im p o rta n t decisions. A fu rth e r refin em ent is m ade
im possible by th e d e a rth o f sources a b o u t such im p o rta n t leaders as Bauer,
D ann eberg, a n d Seitz.48 A b o u t the ho p es an d desires o f the mass o f Vien
nese w orkers o u r know ledge d e p e n d s on oral histories o f aged survivors.
T h e SDAP simply m ade n o provision fo r com m unication am o n g the party
base th ro u g h local new spapers, forum s, o r initiatives from within the new
h o u sin g projects. T he weekly m eetin g to ap p ro v e the p ro g ram s o f the party
lead ership d isco u rag ed th e asking o f questions o r grass-roots initiatives.49
By 1923 it h a d b ecom e clear that so m ethin g substantial h a d to be d o n e
by th e m unicipality to deal with th e h o usin g crisis. But this pro b lem , which
d e m a n d e d a creative a n d ra p id solution, was far fro m simple. A host o f
im p o rta n t q uestions h a d to be c o n fro n te d a n d answered: Should the worst
slums be c leared a n d replaced? S h ou ld som e o f the decaying private housing
stock be acq u ire d by the city a n d renovated? O n the same basis o f acquisi
tion, should basic utilities such as electricity, gas, an d ru n n in g w ater be
in tro d u c e d in a substantial n u m b e r of ap a rtm e n ts that lacked som e o r all o f
these? Wh.ii p ro p o rtio n ol the newly cre a te d building fund, based in large

Municipal Socialism

55

p a rt on the creative new taxes, should be devoted to the building o f new


houses a n d th e o th e r o p tio n s outlined? U nfortunately, we have n o way o f
know ing w hat discussions took place at the highest party levels, since only
th e final decisions have com e dow n to us.
T h e socialists in city hall decid ed to build 25 ,0 0 0 new ap a rtm e n ts in five
years (1 9 2 4 -2 8 ) a n d th ereb y to o p p o se a n u m b e r o f p e o p le s palaces to
th e Zinskasem en (tenem ents) which were the characteristic dwellings o f the
V iennese w orking class.50 T o justify this course o f action, the socialists exag
g e ra te d th e deficiencies o f w orker housing so as to make it all seem like an
u n d iffe re n tia te d slum .51 W hereas th e re were a few real slums in Vienna,
such as th e infam ous K re ta in the 10th d istrict,52 as well as cellar flats and
barracks in o th e r working-class n e ig hb o rh o od s, th e large m ajority o f te n e
m ents w ere quite d u ra b le stru c tu re s (surviving dow n to th e present) in quite
well-kept if n o t very attractive streets, a n d with m any a g reen lawn o r garden
in the vicinity. T h e main p rob lem with living in m ost b u t n o t all o f these
te n e m e n ts was th e o v ercrow ding o f flats a n d th e absence o f the a fo re m e n
tio n ed basic utilities.53
In th e d e p re c a tio n s o f all te n em en ts as unfit habitations, o n e finds no
re fe re n c e to the fact th a t a large p a rt o f the Viennese petty bourgeoisie
(skilled artisans, small sho p keep ers, lesser white-collar employees) lived in
th e very same places as m any o f the w orkers, a n d to g e th e r with them c o n
stitu te d n e ig h b o rh o o d com m unities (with all th e usual complexity o f fric
tion a n d m utuality). T h e socialists choice to build only new structures,
th e re fo re , was based o n p a inting the existing hou sin g conditions so black
Ih at only enclaves o f new p ro jects scattered th r o u g h o u t the city could p r o
vide bo th healthy h o u sin g a n d spiritual uplift.541* would n o t be an exagger
ation to say th a t renovations w ere n ev er o n th eir agen da,55 simply because
h o u sing fo r the socialists re p re s e n te d the fram ew ork o f a far larg er u n d e rl aking: th e org an izatio n a n d m olding o f th e w orking class into a new cultural
fo rm , o p p o se d a n d s u p e rio r to the d o m in a n t b ou rgeo is one. I f V ienna was
Io be a la rg e r cu ltu ral laboratory, the m unicipal h o u sin g p ro je c t was to serve
as the crucible f o r th e ex p erim en t. In m aking this choice, th e socialists were
forced to a b a n d o n o th e r possiblities so far as housing was c o n cerned.
T h e m a tte r o f m aking choices did n o t e n d with having decided to build
25,0 00 new domiciles in project-like com plexes. T he process o f construclion itself becam e an issue, because th e private building industry h a d col
lapsed a n d th e municipality was in a position to d o virtually w hat it liked
a truly u n iq u e circum stance. Since 1919 th e m unicipality had been buying
land in the city at ridiculously low prices, because inflation com bined with
re n t c o n tro l m ade it seem unlikely that any m oney could be m ade in real
estate. By th e b e g in n in g o f 1924, th e re fo re , the m unicipality was already the
largest lan d o w n er in the city, g u a ra n te e in g a basic very low land cost fo r its
building p ro g ra m a n d allowing it to choose h o u sing sites within the city
close to the existing in fra s tru c tu re .Ml
As th e only b u ild e r in the city between 19 19 and 1938, the municipality
was in a position to take over the e n tire industry a n d re stru c tu re it away

56

Red Vienna

fro m a m arket to a c om m unalized form . In the absence o f any serious eco


nom ic co m p etito r, such a m unicipal socialization did n o t face any m o re
serious obstacles th a n o th e r p arts o f th e socialists re fo rm p ro g ram . As sole
custom er, the m unicipality su cceed ed in influencing the pricing policy o f
som e firms supplying building m aterials.57 But it m ade n o a tte m p t to replace
th e host o f small c o n stru c tio n com panies by e n c o u ra g in g the fo rm atio n o f
p ro d u c tio n cooperatives, o r to consolidate a n d co n tro l them . By failing to
d o so, it kept these less-than-efficient private e n terp rises alive. It seems clear
th at the SD A Ps h o u sin g policy was e x p e d ie n t a n d tem porary, fo rced on the
m unicipality by r e n t c o n tro l which b ro u g h t private building to a standstill.
T h e SDAP ap p e a rs n o t to have co n sid ered th e possibility o f a long-range
strategy to partially alter the econom y o f the city th ro u g h the quiet social
ization o f an industry.58 Given the small size a n d large n u m b e r o f com panies,
this would n o t have b e e n easy. Even so, th e feasibility was n o t considered.
Perh aps this failure to capitalize o n socialist possibilities c re a te d by the
citys h o u sin g p ro g ra m can be ex plained by the a n tim o d e rn a rch itectu re
chosen, as well as by th e b uilding m aterials a n d c o n stru c tio n m etho d s used.
Functionalist a rch itectu re, which m ad e its a p p e a ra n c e at this time in a c o n
siderable n u m b e r o f E u ro p e a n cities in radical form s o r m o d e ra te d ad a p
tations, was n o t ch osen by th e socialist city fathers as a p p ro p ria te to sym
bolizing the w ork er dwellings they w ere co n stru ctin g .59 A Viennese
m lang e o f art no u veau, a rt deco, a n d p se u d o m o d e rn ism with feudal
stateliness a n d b a ro q u e decoratio n s, all ad d in g u p to a rem arkable m onum entalism fo r th e public h o u sin g o f a ra th e r p o o r city, seems to have been
p re fe rre d by th e city fa th e rs.60 T h e socialists taste in a rc h ite c tu re as well as
o th e r aspects o f high c u ltu re is so m eth in g we will tu r n to later in this c h a p te r
as well as in a digression o f c h a p te r 4.
This m ix tu re o f arch itectural form s, devotion to o u tm o d e d decorations,
a n d p re fe re n c e fo r th e m o n u m e n ta l reflected a taste fo r traditional Vien
nese styles o n th e p a rt o f m em bers o f the m unicipal housin g b u re a u an d
leading socialists. In all likelihood this taste was shared (or aspired to) by the
workers, fo r w hom functionalist styles probably would have seem ed stark
a n d strange. Tw o fu r th e r con sideratio n s m erit atten tio n . First, the leaders
m ad e th e ir choice w ithout co nsulting th e w orkers, who w ere far less c o n
c e rn e d with the ou tw ard a p p e a ra n c e o f buildings than with the size an d
quality o f a p a rtm e n ts a n d th eir am enities. Second, by a n d large th e fun c
tionalist architects show ed little c o n c e rn fo r th e users o f th eir structures,
which w ere en ds in themselves; they also viewed ten an ts as objects.61
T h e socialists decision to realize th e ir hou sin g p ro g ra m largely th ro u g h
the existing b uilding industry, a n d th eir rejection o f radical d e p a rtu re s
fro m existing a rch itectu ral styles, in large m easure d e te rm in e d the c o n
stru c tio n m aterials a n d m e th o d s to be used. T h e city fathers o p te d fo r brick
a n d m o rta r on the g ro u n d s that this labor-intensive tech niq ue would p r o
vide em ploym ent to an additional I 1,500 workers a year.62 Such a n em ploy
ment b o nu s lo the hou sing p ro g ra m te n d e d lo cut off'discussion, b u t it
should noi have.

Municipal Socialism

57

Monumental central structure, R eum annhof (VGA)

T h e re is n o evidence th a t th e m unicipal council investigated the ex pe


rience o f F ra n k fu rt o r Berlin, n o t to m en tio n H a m b u rg , Lyons, A m ster
dam , o r L o n d o n , in using n ew er building m aterials such as pressed o r p re
fo rm e d re in fo rc e d c o n c re te ceilings, floors, a n d o th e r stru ctu ral as well as
secondary building p a rts.63 In F ran k fu rt, w here all the public ho usin g was
m o d e rn /fu n c tio n a list, all these w ere in use as well as stan dardized windows,
d oo rs, ovens, b a th tu b s, kitchens, a n d lighting fixtures. T he newly p re fa b ri
c ate d stru c tu ra l p a rts w ere assem bled at the building sites by specially
d esign ed cranes o n a y e a r-ro u n d basis.64 Brick c o n stru ctio n in V ienna was
lim ited to eight m o n th s o f seasonal te m p e ra tu re a n d was extrem ely slow.65
It was a p parently also m o re costly p e r sq uare m e te r a n d un it than was the
case in H a m b u rg a n d o th e r G e rm a n cities.66 T h e fact th at th e F ra n k fu rt
building tra d e un ion s, usually very suspicious o f new tech n iq u es as being
labor-saving, s u p p o rte d the new c o n stru c tio n m aterials a n d m ethods sug
gests that em plo ym ent was probably also increased by th e m .67 W ith these
com parative situations in view, o n e begins to d o u b t th e socialist city fa th e rs
a rg u m e n ts that th eir noninnovative h o u sin g p ro g ra m was c h e a p e r and
faster, a n d that it c re a te d m o re jobs.
W h a te v e r r e se rv a tio n s o n e m ig ht h av e a b o u t h o w th e m u n ic ip a l h o u sin g

Red Vienna

58

Interior courtyard, Sandleitenhof with 1,587 apartments (VGA)

was conceived o r c arried ou t, the m ost significant o f the 370 stru ctu res con
tin u e to m ake th e ir im posing p resen ce felt. At the time these were called
p e o p le s palaces, reflecting b o th th e ir m o n u m e n ta l a p p e a ra n c e a n d their
p o p u la r use.68 D espite a g reat variety o f architectural styles, th e basic c o u rt
yard o rie n ta tio n was used, giving buildings a n d com plexes an inwardtu rn e d , b o th protective a n d excluding aspect.69 O n e could qu ite easily an d
w itho u t ex ag g eratio n view them , as th e city fathers did, as p role ta ria n oases
in which s un a n d light, space a n d c o lor set the to n e o f a new fo rm o f decent
a n d dignified living.
But w hereas th e re was a striving fo r m on u m en talism in the e x te rio r of
th e projects, th e in te rio r o f the a p a rtm e n ts suffered fro m minimalism. In
th e first p ro g ra m o f 2 5 ,00 0 units, 75 p e rc e n t had 38 sq u are m eters (410
s q u a re feet) o f space, a n d 25 p e rc e n t h a d 48 sq u are m eters (518 squ are
feet), typically with a living r o o m /k itc h e n a n d additional b e d ro o m o r h alf
b e d ro o m . In th e second p ro g ra m , a fte r 1928, the m ajority o f apa rtm e n ts
h a d 40 sq u are m eters (432 sq u are feet), while a sm aller n u m b e r h a d 49 o r
57 sq u a re m eters (529 o r 6 15 sq u a re feet). T he typical layout in this later
g ro u p re d u c e d th e kitchen to a functional small ro o m sep arated from a liv
ing room . S ta n d a rd in all a p a rtm e n ts w ere electricity, ru n n in g cold water,
gas fo r cooking, a toilet with a foyer se p aratin g it from th e o th e r room s, tiled
kitchen a n d toilet floors, a n d h a rd w o o d p a rq u e t flooring in th e rooms.
N o d o u h l th ese m u n icip al a p a rtm e n ts re p re s e n te d a c o n sid e ra b le phys
ical i m p r o v e m e n t o v e r t h e t y p i c a l t e n e m e n t h a b i t a t i o n . Bill t h e y a l s o fell

LEGEND:
P
Heu
St
H

P ra te r
H eu rig en
S ta d iu m
S u p e rb lo c k p e o p l e s p alaces
w ith 8 0 0 o r m o re a p a r tm e n ts

60

Red Vienna

sh o rt in im p o rta n t ways o f being th e revolutionary d e p a rtu re in w orker liv


ing space extolled by SDAP spokesm en at the tim e.70 T h e quality o f m unic
ipal a p a rtm e n ts was greatly dim inished by the absence o f private bathroom s,
h o t water, an d central heating, which greatly increased the housew ork o f
w om en, who w ere obliged to h aul coke a n d ashes to a n d from the basem ent
(as they h a d d o n e in th e tenem ents), a n d to keep vats o f h o t w ater o n the
boil fo r long h o u rs to m eet th e needs o f various form s o f washing (dishes,
clothes, floors, a n d so on) an d b a th in g .71 Private b a th ro o m s were n o t fea
sible, given the small size o f ap a rtm e n ts a n d pro b ab le high u n it cost. But the
failure to p ro v id e cen tral h e a tin g a n d h o t w ater could n o t be explained away
as b ein g to o expensive. C o u ld the p rice o f installing these facilities have sig
nificantly a lte re d th e r e n t stru c tu re ? W o uld the ten an ts have b e e n p re p a re d
fo r a small su rc h a rg e fo r such conveniences? O n e w onders, co n sid ering the
installation o f expensive p a rq u e t flooring, w h e th e r the rationalizations
o ffered did n o t simply cover u p th e faulty u n d e rsta n d in g o f dom estic facil
ities a n d te n a n t needs by som e (male) planners.
T h e fact rem ains th a t in F ran kfu rt, Berlin, a n d H am bu rg , to m ention
b u t a few co n tra stin g exam ples, the m unicipal flats b uilt were larger (fifty to
sixty sq u a re m eters) an d included h o t water, b ath ro o m s, a n d central h e a t
ing.72 T h e shortco m ing s o f th e V iennese a p artm ents, which th e socialist
re fo rm e rs a tte m p te d to explain away, m ost probably stem m ed fro m the
c o n stru c tio n m e th o d s used, as well as fro m w hat ap p e a rs to be resistance to
technical innovation. T h e so-called F ra n k fu rte r Kiiche, a m o d u la r built-in
kitchen, was designed by th e V iennese architect M argarete Schiitte-Lihotzky b u t m a n u fa c tu re d in G erm any fo r 238 Marks a n d widely used in G er
m an public h o u sing .73 N o d o u b t this kitchen as rational factory went
c o u n te r to th e large living ro o m /k itc h e n to which Viennese te n e m e n t dwell
ers w ere accustom ed. But the m unicipal building p ro g ra m o f 1928 c reated
a p a rtm e n ts with a tiny kitchen space (lacking the advantages o f the Frank
f u r te r Kiiche) a n d pro v id ed th e w orker ten an ts with an u n accu sto m ed living
ro o m , n e ith e r o f which they h a d d esired.
In pa rt, o f course, th e shortco m ing s in individual domiciles w ere com
p e n sa te d f o r by a wide array o f c o m m un al living facilities. T hese included
m echanized laundries, bathhouses, kind erg arten s, playgrounds a n d wading
pools, m ee tin g room s, medical a n d d ental clinics, libraries a n d lecture halls,
shops o f th e co n su m e r society, a n d yo u th a n d m o th e rs co n sultation clin
ics.74 A full a rray o f such am enities was available only in th e largest projects.
Small a n d m edium -sized ones sh ared a limited n u m b e r o f collective facilities
betw een them . C en tral laundries a n d b ath ho u ses te n d e d to be overtaxed
with u se.75 M any m unicipal h ou sin g te n a n ts w ere forced to seek showers in
o th e r pro jects at q u ite som e distance fro m th e ir hom es, o r to rely o n the old
m unicipal b ath h o u ses (Tropferlbcider) which co n tin u e d to serve te n e m e n t
dwellers.
It must be b o rn e in m ind iliat w here these com m unal facilities existed,
they re q u ire d the paym ent o f small fees (laundry, b ath ho u se, k in d erg arten ,
and clinic) an d strict a d h e re n c e to rules established by tlx- central housing

Municipal Socialism

61

Model living room in Karl-Marx-Hof. Few workers could afford to buy this
functional furniture. (VGA)

office.76 T h e city fath ers m ade n o atte m p t to ex p erim en t with providing


even p artial p rofessional dom estic h elp in any o f th e projects. T h a t the idea
o f a c en tral kitchen a n d dinin g facility (or similar partial socializations )
did n o t appeal to th e leading socialists can be seen from th eir personal
choices in h abitation. In a building o n the Albertgasse, co n stru c te d fo r
s en io r socialist party a n d m unicipal employees, th e typical a p a rtm e n t c o n
sisted o f f o u r roo m s plus a kitchen, b a th ro o m , toilet, a n d m aids ro o m .77
T h e SDAP elders w ere n o t inclined to exp e rim e n t e ith e r in architectural
styles o r in new living a rran g em en ts. T h e ir p referen ces, values, a n d tastes
were far closer to an in h e rite d brg erlich e T ra d itio n th a n th eir Austromarxist a m o u r p r o p r e w ould allow them to admit.
W ho was actually lucky e n o u g h to becom e th e p ro u d te n a n t o f a new
municipal a p a rtm e n t? T h e co nsenus seems to be th a t y o u n g er working-class
couples with o n e o r two children m ade u p the m ajority.78 Since the initiation
o f the housing-requisition law in 1920, the m unicipality m ade use o f a point
system to d e te rm in e th e allocation o f domiciles o n the basis o f need. T he
same p oint system was used in selecting ten an ts fo r the new m unicipal p ro j
ects, and the socialists w ere em phatic in insisting that th e selection was fair
an d u n tin g e d by political considerations. O p p o n e n ts claimed the opposite,
chargin g that th e hou sing office, which m ad e the final choice a m o n g appli
cants, o p e ra te d in secret a n d by its b u reau cratic d e m a n d s d iscouraged those
who did not have the correct political co n n e c tio n s.7'1

62

Red Mienim

Communal laundry, Sandleitenhof (VGA)

A closer look at th e actual schedule o f points seems to suggest that the


socialists faced a dilem ma. T h e ir h o p es fo r creating a working-class c u ltu re
based on m unicipal institutions rested o n you n g w orker families less e n c u m
b e re d by the past a n d m o re receptive to the m ultifaceted e d u catio n being
p r e p a re d fo r them . But the old p o in t schem a (in which ten points p u t an
applicant in th e highest category) allotted five points to those living in u n in
habitable q u a rte rs a n d five p oints to invalids as well.80 I f the schem e had
b een strictly e n fo rc e d , it would have p o p u la te d the m unicipal projects with
many o f the p o o rest, least skilled, socially m ost un settled a n d needy, and
physically m ost frail m em b ers o f the Viennese w orking class.81 Such a strict
a d h e re n c e to the rules also would have completely d iscou n ted the im p or
ta n t voluntary w ork d o n e by cad res o f th e party. It w ould seem th at a certain
am o u n t o f political p a tro n a g e an d, above all, selection o f the m o re p ro m
ising w orker families was th e actual a n d quite reasonable practice fol
lowed.
T h e very small size o f a p a rtm e n ts a n d the p rohibition o f subtenancies
revolutionized th e family stru c tu re in the new m unicipal projects. T he o p en
family o f the te n e m e n ts h a d consisted o f diverse relatives, subtenants, and
bed ren ters, in cheek-by-jowl proximity. They h a d form ed an intricate n e t
work o f social relationships characterized by b o th friction a n d m utual aid.
O ral histories o f life in the te n e m e n ts a b o u n d with recollections o f social
izing with n eig hb o rs o n th e landings an d in the stairwells, o n th e sidewalk
in front o f the building a n d o n nearby lots an d lawns.82 These rem iniscences

Municipal Socialism
go b ey on d th e daily co n ta c t points at the hallway w ater faucet a n d coal cellar
to the ex ch ang e o f services such as baby sitting, a n d to large festivities
involving collective dining, singing, a n d d a n cing am o ng relatives, friends,
a n d neig h b o rs.83
T h e n u c le a r family o f th e m unicipal houses p arents a n d on e o r two
ch ild re n e x p e rie n c e d an u n accustom ed privacy which alte rn a te d with
necessary p a rticip ation in highly co n tro lled public facilities.84 Municipal
h o u sin g thus c re a te d two form s o f th e w orker family: o n e was isolated as a
small family w ithin its f o u r walls a n d basic utilities, a n d shut off from sp o n
ta n e o u s p e e r c o n tact th ro u g h landings with only two to fo u r a partm ents
a n d n arro w stairwells; the o th e r was p a rt o f th e large building family o f
sh a re d facilities re p re se n tin g the com m unity, th eir class, a n d th e ir party.
Som e aspects o f daily family life re m a in e d im pervious to th e new su rro u n d
ings: p a re n ts a n d ch ild ren c o n tin u e d to share th e same b ed ro o m ; the living
ro o m /k itc h e n in the sm aller ap a rtm e n ts rem ain ed the c e n te r o f family life;
a n d the large pieces o f fu rn itu re from te n e m e n t days dw arfed the room s
a n d could n o t be rep laced with the costly m o d e rn , m o d u la r units praised
a n d re c o m m e n d e d in th e party publications.86
It w ould surely be an e r r o r to view th e m unicipal hou sin g p ro g ra m o f
th e SDAP m erely as a m eans o f im proving th e life-styles o f th e w orkers o f
prov id ing additional conveniences, space, air, light, a n d so on. J u d g e d in
this resp ect alone o r prim arily, this p a rt o f m unicipal socialism is o p e n to
serious criticism o n the basis o f w hat alternatives were possible in Vienna
a n d accom plished in o th e r cities. T he p e o p le s p alaces w ere fro m the first
in te n d e d to be m o re th a n b e tte r housing. T hey w ere to provide the allim p o rta n t en v iro n m e n t in which the w orker family would be socialized so
as to becom e ordentlich a n d be e d u c a te d by an e m ergin g party cultu re in the
d ire c tio n o f n e u e M en schen. 87
Life outside th e cell-like a p a rtm e n ts was strictly reg im en ted by the h o u s
ing m an agem ent. T h e p a te rn a l m anagerial s tru c tu re , which drew its a u th o r
ity directly fro m the h o u sin g b u re a u o f th e m unicipal council, included a
co ncierge c h a rg e d with prescrib in g a n d en fo rc in g building rules (the time
a n d place to beat ru gs a n d d eposit refuse; how a n d w h ere children should
play in the co u rty ard ; th e a p p e a ra n c e o f hallways, cellars, a n d balconies;
etc.).88 T h e re was also a la un d ry supervisor who sch ed uled th e m onthly wash
days o f each family, kep t all b u t the w om en o u t o f the washing facility (on
th e p ru d ish g ro u n d s o f p ro te c tin g fem ale modesty), a n d supervised the use
o f m achinery; an a p a rtm e n t in sp ecto r who m ade m onthly visits to all d o m
iciles to ascertain th e ir state o f m ain tenan ce a n d to receive re p o rts o f infractions o f th e rules fro m the concierge (children playing o n the grass in the
c o u rty a rd were duly m ark ed dow n in a book o f infractions); a n d an array o f
e x p e rts in the clinics, consultation centers, kind erg arten s, a n d libraries
whose function was above all tutelary.
T h e ten an ts o f the new m unicipal ho usin g w ere c o n fro n te d with stru c
tures, spaces, room s, facilities, a n d rules o f o p e ra tio n devised fo r them , all
in place a n d im pervious to influences o r d em an ds from below. It was not so

64

Red Vienna

m uch th at private initiatives by ten an ts to regu late a n d co n tro l th e ir collec


tive living spaces were discouraged, b u t th a t no m echanism fo r th eir e x pres
sion h a d even b een conceived.90 T o be sure, te n a n ts com m ittees were
elected in each o f the hou sing projects, b u t th eir function was vaguely advi
sory. T h e will o f the hou sing office was tran sm itte d to th e h ou sin g p roject
level by stalw art party cadres. T h e re was n o m echanism fo r the grum bling
a m o n g te n a n ts to be m ade public, save the te n a n ts meetings, which were
c h o re o g ra p h e d by th e SDAP.9' A considerable n u m b e r o f com m unist news
letters, hastily conceived and h e c to g ra p h e d , m ade the lack o f dem ocracy in
th e m an a g e m e n t o f the m unicipal houses th eir leitmotiv.92 B ut it is very
d o u b tfu l w h e th e r th eir exag g erated bro ad sid e attack on the SDAP had
m uch effect o n the conditions com p lain ed about.
T h e socialist-dom inated m unicipalitys ra th e r simplistic a p p ro a c h to
com plex social stru ctu res a n d problem s, a n d its reliance on so-called
e x p e rts to b rin g a b o u t a b e tte r working-class family, w ere based on a
d isreg ard fo r th e subjects own fram ew ork o f e x p erien ce.93 Small w onder,
then , th at m unicipal socialism was o ften viewed as regim en tation from the
to p by its beneficiaries themselves, a con d ition to which w orkers were
already su b jected in full m easu re at th e workplace. T h e socialists p r o p e n
sity to act in loco p arentis re in fo rc e d th e p a te rn a listic /a u th o rita ria n te n
dencies p re s e n t in th e socialization o f working-class families in the p r e r e
publican e ra a n d in the c o n te m p o ra ry d o m in a n t culture. Ironically, h e re in
the cradle o f th e n e u e M en schen, initiatives o f th e smallest variety, such
as p la n n in g a n d carrying o u t a d e m o n stra tio n to m ark th e historic o p e n in g
o f the K arl-M arx-H of, were th ro ttle d by the party in th e nam e o f discipline
a n d c o n tro l.94
T o say th a t th e socialists w ere im m o d est a b o u t th e ir ho u sin g accom plish
m ents w ould b e an u n d e rsta te m e n t, fo r they crow ed th e ir un iqu eness from
th e ro o fto p s at h o m e a n d a b ro a d .95 In th e ir O lym pian stance they failed to
recognize o r credit socialist h o u sin g p rog ram s in o th e r places. They did n ot
take n o te th at H a m b u rg also used a building tax to partly finance a larger
n u m b e r o f w orker flats; th at the brilliant socialist architect a n d p lan n er
E rnst May d eveloped a general h ou sin g plan fo r F ra n k fu rt based on the h a r
m ony o f fo rm a n d fu n ctio n in a new design o f w orker u rb a n living; that the
socialist city g o v ern m en t o f V illeurbanne-L yons had cre a te d spectacular
w ork er skyscrapers, a n d the su b u rb a n Parisian re d b e lt o f w orker hou s
ing h a d b e e n c o n stru c te d against g re a t odds; o r th a t w ork er housin g in
E n g lan d was increased by o n e -th ird betw een 1919 a n d 1939, with massive
slum clearing in L o n d o n .96
Such a c o m pariso n m ight have f o u n d th e V iennese socialists m unicipal
h o u sin g p ro g ra m lacking in various ways a n d certainly less exceptional. It
would not, however, have d e tra c te d from its accom plishm ent o f providing
the en v iro n m e n t fo r a p otentially u n iq u e political culture. E ducation o f the
w orkers was to he carrie d o u t not only a m o n g Ihe limited n u m b e r fo rtu n a te
e n o u g h to have won a place in the pe o p le s palaces, but a m o n g all o f Vien
n a's w orkers, who would he draw n lo (hem as symbols o f a working-class

Municipal Socialism

65

p re se n c e a n d stren g th . This stre n g th was exem plified by such architectural


fo rtresses as the K arl-M arx-H of a n d Karl-Seitz-Hof, in which massive walls
a n d h u g e archways p ro te c te d the in hab ited in te rio r from the outside
w orld.97 T h e visual force o f these enclaves th r o u g h o u t th e city co n trib u te d
to a sense o f political p ow er am o n g the w orkers, e n c o u ra g e d by the socialist
leaders, that was m o re a p p a re n t th a n real.98 It is this vastness o f vision, p re
tension even, to fashion a new pro le ta ria n c u ltu re in its c o n tex t th at made
th e V iennese m unicipal h o u sing a far m o re impressive totality than the sum
o f its p a rts.99

P u b lic H ea lth an d S o cial Welfare:


S h a p in g th e O r d e r ly W orker Fam ily
T h e sam e enviro n m entalism which u n derlay th e socialists hou sin g p r o
g ra m th e c o n c e p t o f creatin g an enclosed and p ro te c te d living fram ew ork
in which the w ork er family could be assisted to a h ig h e r sta n d a rd o f civili
zation a n d a new h u m an ity was the guiding th o u g h t beh in d the socialist
city fa th e rs a p p ro a c h to h ealth a n d welfare. T h e ir mission becam e n o t only
to re fo rm these by e x te n d in g the very limited p ro g ram s initiated d u rin g the
m onarchy, b u t to chan ge th e ir focus a n d u ltim ate p urpo se.
W h en th e socialists assum ed c o n tro l over th e city adm inistration in the
su m m e r o f 1919, the ravages o f war w ere everyw here ap p a re n t: the virtual
break d ow n o f public sanitation; a p o p u la tio n w eakened by fo u r years o f
m aln u tritio n ; th e d a n g e r o f epidem ics; a sh a rp increase in th e traditional
killer disease, tuberculosis, a n d in venereal diseases; overcrow ding o f less
th a n a d e q u a te hospital facilities; a sh arp grow th in the n u m b e r o f indigent
a n d homeless; a n d a general sh o rtage o f fuel and foodstuffs n e e d e d fo r a
re tu r n to no rm al public health. T he socialist m unicipal g ov ern m en t moved
quickly to a rre st a n d reverse these adverse conditions mainly by investing
m o re public reso u rces in the expansion o f clinics, family assistance p r o
gram s, a n d aid to children. Closely associated with m easures to arre st the
d e te rio ra tio n o f public health a n d welfare was a drive fo r cleanliness an d
hygiene in public places, m ad e possible by the in tro d u c tio n o f sprinkler
trucks a n d a new m e th o d o f m echanized g arbage collection.100
Socialist a p p ro a c h e s to these problem s re m a in e d piecem eal and lacked
a focus until th e su m m e r o f 1920, when Dr. Ju liu s T a n d le r becam e city
co u n cillo r f o r welfare. H e cam e to his office with th e e x p erien ce gained in
public service as u n d e rse c re ta ry fo r public h e a lth in the short-lived coalition
national governm ents. T a n d le r was a distinguished anatom ist, on e o f the
few Jew ish chaired p ro fessors o n the medical faculty o f th e university, an d
a m an with s tro n g socialist a n d scientific b eliefs.101 W ith an en larg ed b u d g et
at his disposal, m ad e possible by the new B reitner taxes, T a n d le r pro c e e d e d
to alte r the perspective an d practice o f public health and social w elfare.102
In place o f th e n o tio n that health and welfare w ere m atters fo r Christian

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caritas o r o th e r private ch aritable organizations, the socialists in the m unic


ipal council a d o p te d T a n d le rs view th at health a n d welfare w ere the right
o f every citizen.103
A ltho u gh this view seems in m any ways exem plary a n d h u m an itarian at
first sight, its explication as b o th th eo ry and practice a ro u se d considerable
resistance n o t simply from th e ch u rc h o r th e C hristian Social party, w here
o n e m ight expect it, b u t also fro m the w orkers in w hose in terest it was devel
o ped. In su b se q u e n t publications T a n d le r w ent to great lengths to explain
a n d justify his a p p ro a c h , in o r d e r to allay what he believed (quite correctly)
was suspicion a m o n g th e w orkers.104 W hat e m erged fro m these explications
w ere a n u m b e r o f advertised principles underlying the Viennese welfare sys
tem: that society is c o m m itted to assist all those in need; th at individual wel
fare assistance can be ad m in istered rationally only within th e co n tex t o f
family welfare; that constructive welfare aid is preventive welfare care; and
that the org anizatio n o f welfare m ust rem ain a closed system .105
W hat w ere th e practical accom plishm ents to which the m unicipal c o u n
cil p o in te d with great p rid e as being rem arkable? T he decline o f the d eath
rate by 25 p e rc e n t and o f infant m ortality by 50 p e rc e n t from p rew ar levels
sto o d high o n the list.10t>T he incidence o f tuberculosis, which h a d b een ra m
p a n t particularly in the w orking class, was only som ew hat re d u c e d a n d c o n
tin u e d to b e th e m ajo r th re a t to health a m o n g sch oo lch ild ren .107 A c o m p re
hensive system o f aid to children was p u t in fo rc e .108 It inclu ded school
lunches, school medical a n d d en tal exam inations, provisions fo r publicly
sp o n so re d vacations a n d su m m e r cam ps, a n d newly c re a te d after-school
centers. T h e n u m b e r o f k in d erg arten s increased significantly fro m 20 in
1913 to 113, with alm ost 10,000 children, in 1 9 3 1.109 M unicipal b ath in g
facilities including swimming pools, with some 9 million p a tro n s in 1927,
w ere also high on the list o f attainm ents in public hygiene. Prophylactic
medical exam inations fo r adults a n d ch ild ren in m unicipal clinics reached
12 3,000 in 1932, a n d w elfare w orkers c arried o u t 91,00 0 h o m e visits in the
same year. N o d o u b t this was a c o m m en dable re c o rd o f accom plishm ent fo r
th e m unicipal a dm inistration, b u t it was by no m eans as u n iq u e as the social
ists claimed. I f we c o m p a re it to a n u m b e r o f co n te m p o ra ry G erm an cities,
D sse ld o rf fo r instance, we find an alm ost identical ro ste r o f h ealth and wel
fare m easures a n d achievem ents.110
Like o th e r aspects o f V iennese m unicipal socialism, it was th e in stru
m ental ro le o f the h ealth a n d welfare p ro gram s in the lives o f th e w orkers
th a t gave th em a special ch aracter. U n d e r the forceful d irection o f T andler,
th e welfare d e p a rtm e n t p u rs u e d an overall policy o f p o p u la tio n politics. It
assum ed responsibility f o r im proving th e quantity a n d quality o f the p o p u
lation at large. This mission was p re d ic a te d o n th e duty a n d pow er o f the
public au th o rity to in terven e in the life o f the family. P o p u la tio n politics,
particularly c o n c e rn a b o u t the steady decline in p o p u latio n and Ihe n eed to
add n o t only to th e n u m b e r o f w orkers b ut also to im prove them biologi
cally, was a m a jo r c o n c e rn am o n g leading socialists in the party a n d m unic
ipal g o v e rn m e n t.111

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Red Vienna

T a n d le rs own version c o m bin ed elem ents o f neo-L am arkian and social


Darwinist ideas, p ro p o sin g th a t changes in the h u m a n env iro n m e n t could
be tra n sm itte d th ro u g h the g erm plasm a n d th a t a n atu ra l selection car
ried o u t by responsible officials w ould en h an ce an d im prove th e genetic
pool o f fu tu re g e n e ra tio n s.112 At times T a n d le r slipped into eugenic fan ta
sies o f sterilization and o th e r m eans o f rep ro d u c tiv e denial by society, quite
frig h ten in g in th eir im plications.113 F inding n o co n tra d ic tio n betw een these
ideas a n d his co m m itm en t to socialism, he set o u t to fashion a pow erful
organization o f social interv ention to p u t p o p u latio n politics into practice.
U n d e r th e auspices o f the Public W elfare Office, a n u m b e r o f institu
tions w ere c re a te d to assist th e family co nsidered the g erm cell o f a healthy
p o p u la tio n in its task o f re a rin g the next generation. W h ere the family
failed to provide optim al conditions, the Public W elfare Office was to p r o
vide te m p o ra ry o r alternative care. T he m unicipality thus e m p o w ered itself
to rem ove children from th eir p aren ts, if it ju d g e d th em deficient in their
n u r tu r in g capability a n d responsibility.114 T a n d le r was attacked repeatedly
in the m unicipal council by Christian Social m em bers who accused him o f
a lienating c h ildren fro m th eir p a re n ts in o r d e r to in d o crin ate th em with
socialist ideas. His stock reply was th a t h e con sid ered the family sacred, b ut
only if it was capable o f p e rfo rm in g its vital fu n c tio n .115 U n d e r T a n d le rs
directio n the Public W elfare Office p u t th e p o p u la tio n u n d e r surveillance
with th e a rg u m e n t th at preventive welfare, aim ed at raising th e m oral cli
m ate o f families, necessitated that it act in a supervisory capacity.116 T he
m eth o d s em ployed c om b ined persuasion with com pulsion, voluntary c o o p
e ra tio n with ju rid ic a l force.
T h e realm o f m unicipal family supervision was o rganized in lockstep vir
tually fro m c o n cep tio n to a d u lth o o d , w hen the cycle c o n tin u e d as th e fo r
m e r child becam e a p a re n t. T h e m ost original a n d controversial agency was
a m arriage co n sultatio n clinic c re a te d in 1922. Its fu nctio n was to advise
couples in te n t on m arriage a b o u t th eir sexual health, genetic deficits,
h e re d ita ry weaknesses, a n d pro sp ects fo r p ro d u c in g no rm al a n d healthy
c h ild re n .117 T h e clinic o ffered to issue certificates to prospective conjugal
sexual p a rtn e rs th at they w ere free o f disabilities such as syphilis a n d tu b e r
culosis a n d h o p e d th ereby to im prove the quality o f the p o p ulation . But very
few individuals w ere p r e p a r e d f o r such intrusions into th eir private lives,
a n d a fte r ten years the v e n tu re was a d m itte d to be a failure. T h ro u g h o u t its
existence th e clinic m et with violent o pp o sitio n fro m th e ch u rc h a n d the
C hristian Social party ( th e Jew s are to u ch in g the holy state o f C hristian
m a trim o n y ).118 T a n d le rs tru e inte n tio n in fo u n d in g th e clinic that o f
using m arriage con su ltatio n fo r w eeding o u t those eugenically unfit for
r e p r o d u c tio n and the possible legal misuse o f the case reco rd s n o d o u b t
did n o t escape th e general p u b lic .119 T h e clinic m ade a p o int o f refusing to
have anything to d o with sex counseling o r b irth co n tro l advice, subjects
which might have m ade it attractive a n d useful. T he SDAP a p p ro a c h to
these sensitive subjects is taken u p in c h a p te r (>.
T h e m a r r i a g e c o n s u l t a t i o n c l i n i c w a s t h e o n l y f a i l u r e ; all o t h e r a g e n c i e s

I
Municipal Socialism

69

o f th e Public W elfare Office c o n c e rn e d with the life cycle o f the V iennese


family w ere successful in p ro m o tin g its aims. At the beginning o f family c o n
tro l w ere the m unicipal hospitals, in which 83 p e rc e n t o f all births took
p la c e .120 Social w orkers in the m aternity w ards registered th e new born
infants, a rra n g e d fo r a su b se q u e n t ho m e visit, a n d re c o m m e n d e d that
m o th e r a n d child regularly a tte n d a m o th e rs co nsultation clinic f o r fu rth e r
assistance in infant care. By 1927 th e re w ere thirty-four o f these clinics, co n
c e rn e d with infant a n d child care to th e age o f six, d istrib u te d th ro u g h o u t
th e city.121 D octors advised m oth ers on breast feeding a n d infant a n d child
care a n d hygiene, a n d resident social w orkers followed u p these instructions
with h o m e visits to see th at consulting m o th ers h a d carrie d them o u t.122 This
was bu t o n e way in which the Public W elfare Office fo u n d entry into the
h o m e in o r d e r to o bserve a n d ju d g e the adequacy o r insufficiency o f family
n u r t u r e fo r th e children. T h e right to r e g u la r inspections o f families receiv
ing any kind o f m unicipal assistance was statu tory and, as we shall see, gave
the welfare m achinery tre m e n d o u s p ow er n o t only in dealing with individ
u al cases b u t in setting the n o rm s o f family h ealth a n d behavior.
In 1927 T a n d le r p ro p o se d to the M unicipal C ouncil th a t th e Public W el
fa re Office be g ra n te d th e right to distribute, regardless o f need , infant lay
ettes to all new bo rns as a birthday p re s e n t from th e municipality. A fter
an e x te n d e d a n d h e a te d d e b a te in which the socialists were accused once
m o re o f using city hall to make political p ro p a g a n d a , the m easure was
fo rc e d th ro u g h by th e socialist m ajo rity.12:1T hese gifts were packed in a ttra c
tive r e d c a rto n s with a r e p ro d u c tio n o f a fam ous m other-and-child image by
th e sc u lp to r A n to n H a n a k o n th e cover a n d a listing o f th e thirty-four m o th
e r s co n su ltatio n clinics with addresses on the inside. Before long, some
13,000 o f these parcels w ere being d istrib u te d annually.124 W ith o ut dim in
ishing th e virtu re o f such n e e d -b lin d distributions, it is necessary also to
co n sid er the T ro ja n h o r s e aspects o f these gifts. T h eir distrib ution by
social w orkers m ade it possible fo r th e Public W elfare Office to look into
hom es which w ere otherw ise outside its purview .125
By a n d large, however, the welfare a u th o rities did n o t d e p e n d on invi
tations to pass ju d g m e n t o n family life. T h e city council as early as 1921
claim ed g u a rdian ship over children b o rn o u t o f wedlock, fo ster children,
a n d th ose in institutional c a re .126 A fte r this g ro u p , subject to th e m ost
intense fo rm o f co n tro l, cam e all those who received public assistance in any
form . Such families w ere subject to re g u la r visits by social w orkers who kept
close w atch o n th e sta n d a rd o f h ousekeeping, especially cleanliness, th e c o n
d itio n o f beds a n d clothing, fo od p re p a ra tio n , a n d family relations. Adoles
cents with p rob lem s w ere re fe rre d to o r ex p e c te d to seek assistance at youth
con sultation clinics th ro u g h o u t the city. Families were also subject to hom e
visits because the school d o c to r h ad re p o rte d som e health pro blem o f their
children , o r because c o u r t p ro ceedin gs fo r eviction, fo r instance drew
a tte n tio n to th e family as being tro u b le d . 127 K indergartens a n d a fte r
school youth c e n te rs w orked h an d in h a n d wilh welfare efforts to p ro d u c e
the o rderly family. Special atte n tio n was paid to the professional train ing o f

70

Red Vienna

llTimeeKind darf auf


Zeilunppapicc
HtbcrmtiirtUn
li fit di* V*fw*kuis W in*
ubem ekm en.
D eiK tlb U f t d*e lo*<e!demoieriiifdi G e m e inde vCrw itung
W ien* jedem N e ugebore nen
W m d e ln in <ie W ie j ,

f t n T IT T T
3 3 .0 0 0

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!mge*mt

53.000
Sniiqlinqsp n h ftf,
in denen berdies BidetucKer,
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tern fr Hf* Neugeborenen

A grand total o f 53,000 municipal layettes had been distributed by 1931.

(Der Kuckuck)

social w o rk ers.128 T hey w ere exclusively w om en, because T a n d le r a n d m ost


leading socialists believed th at a special female e m p a th y was necessary for
the o ften em o tio n al d em an d s o n welfare w ork ers.12
Finally, we com e lo the q uestion implicit in all the welfare activities: what
h a p p e n e d when the social w orker m aking a ho m e visit con clu d ed that the

Municipal Socialism

71

family did n o t m eet th e m unicipalities n orm s o f the orderly family? A


r e p o r t was m ade to th e ch ild re n s diagnostic service (Kinderiibernahmestelle),
a m o d e rn observation c e n te r u n d e r the d irection o f the child psychologist
C h a rlo tte Biihler, c h a rg e d with d eciding th e fate o f children from p ro b le m
atic en v iro nm ents. A c o u rt o r d e r was issued re q u irin g th e p aren ts to su r
r e n d e r the child to th e diagnostic service, which in the course o f som e fo u r
weeks w ould m ake a re c o m m e n d a tio n th at h a d th e force o f law.130 T he child
m ight be p u t in th e care o f foster p arents, be sent to a c h ild re n s h o m e or
c o rrectio n al institution, be a d m itted to a hospital, o r be r e tu r n e d to the p a r
ents. O f the various reasons given fo r re m a n d in g the child to the diagnostic
c e n te r, relatives a d m itte d to a hospital, poverty, a n d homelessness ranked
highest, a n d neglect a n d delinquency w ere fre q u e n t, w hereas e n d a n g e re d
m orals a n d p a re n ta l conflict w ere rarely m e n tio n e d .131
H ow working-class com m unities reacted to the municipalitys attem pts
to tra n sfo rm them in to th e o rderly families o f its definition is n ot easy to
discern. C o n te m p o ra ry m eans o f grass-roots co m m u n ication am o n g work
ers w ere virtually n o nexisten t. O n c e again we have only a scattering o f local
co m m u n ist new sletters which, despite th eir e x p ected political line, throw
som e light o n how the welfare system w orked a n d was perceived from below.
In these, com plaints w ere all c e n te re d o n th e behavior o f social workers and
o th e r m unicipal officials: th eir tre a tm e n t o f th e needy, th eir arro g an ce in
d ealing with sick w orkers n e e d in g m edical a n d pharm aceutical referrals,
th e ir ten dency to tre a t w orkers like children, a n d th e p o o r fun ctio nin g o f
k in d e rg a rte n s.132 T h e re w ere also claims that welfare paym ents to families
w ere b eing cu t o n sp u rio u s g rou n ds, as fo r instance a familys having
gained p ro p e r ty in th e fo rm o f a bag o f apples, so th at it n e e d e d less su p
p o rt. M ore directly aim ed a t th e subjective ju d g m e n ts o f th e welfare d e p a r t
m e n t was th e charge th a t a social w orker took a child to the police ra th e r
th a n dealing with the m o th e r, w ho was estra n g e d fro m h e r h u s b a n d .133
O ral histories o f working-class families a n d social w orkers o f the First
R epublic depict public welfare as a coercive system. T he ju d g m e n t o f what
was respectable, orderly, a n d d ecent o n th e p a rt o f social workers was arb i
tra ry .134 Very o ften the fact o f being p o o r a con d ition ever m o re wide
sp re a d a fte r the im pact o f th e depressio n a n d m o u n tin g u n em p lo y m en t
was sufficient cause to p u t a family on notice f o r fu r th e r investigation, o r to
th re a te n to send ch ild ren to the diagnostic c e n te r if a m o th e r did no t
im prove th e general a p p e a ra n c e o f h e r domicile, th e con d ition o f the beds
a n d ch ild re n s clothes, o r the family m eals.135 But, given th eir increasing
poverty, V iennese w orkers h a d to paw n h o u se h o ld objects a n d bedding, cut
c o rn e rs o n fo o d by serving ch ild ren b re a d sp re a d with lard (Schmalzbrot),136
a n d re p a ir all cloth in g items to th e p o in t w here they w ere ragged.
T h e ten den cy o f the welfare system to look u p o n th e p o o r, the u n e m
ployed, those evicted, o r those w ho c o nsu m ed a glass too many, as deviants
o r at best as m arginal families n e e d in g th e full m easu re o f social co n tro l to
b rin g th em u p to n o rm al stan d ard s, m ade welfare w orkers a p p e a r as hostile
g overnm ent agents in working-class com m unities. Indeed, the removal o f

72

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children to the diagnostic center, as described by o n e social w orker, resem


bled a police raid, with social w orker a n d bailiff arriving unexpectedly to
re d u c e th e a m o u n t o f p aren tal resistance to what the p a re n ts con sidered a
violation o f th eir rig h ts.137
T h e socialists had p u t th e ir health and welfare p ro g ra m into effect
against the vociferous o bjections a n d c o nd e m n a tio n o f the C hristian Social
party in the m unicipal council. It is in terestin g to observe that the whole
K ulturkam pf being w aged did n o t arise fro m differences a b o u t the right o r
necessity o f h ig h er au tho rities to interven e in the life o f the family. It was
th e n a tu re o f the in te rv e n e r which lay at th e h e a rt o f the struggle: w hether
it sho u ld be th e state acting th ro u g h th e agency o f a socialist m unicipal gov
e rn m e n t, o r the ch u rc h acting th ro u g h its apostolic spokesm en. N either
side paid m uch a tte n tio n to the similarity o f positions; only the differences
w ere fo ug h t over. Invariably, as in m ost conflicts betw een the two political
camps, anti-Semitism was a w eapon o f choice fo r the C hristian Socials. T he
position o f the SDAP in view o f these attacks was to a tte m p t to deflect them
w ithout m eeting them head-on.
It is to T a n d le rs c redit th a t he pro vid ed a ra re exam ple o f un ab ashed
resistance to anti-Semitic slan der used by the clerical forces. T he incident
involved th e co n stru ctio n o f a m unicipal crem a to riu m in 1923, at the
re q u e st o f various citizens g ro u p s including the w orkers c re m a to riu m soci
ety, Die F lam m e.138 T h e a rc h b ish o p s pastoral lette r re sp o n d e d to T a n d le rs
p rop o sal by th re a te n in g exco m m u n ication to Catholics who took a h a n d in
such an un-C hristian e n terprise. T h e fierce d eb ates in the m unicipal council
included a large m easu re o f anti-Semitism d ire c te d against T a n d le r a n d the
SDAP leadership. A fter the first c rem atio n h a d taken place, the Seipel gov
e rn m e n t d ire c te d M ayor Seitz to close th e crem ato riu m . H e refu sed on
g ro u n d s th a t he was b o u n d by th e decisions o f b o th th e m unicipal council
a n d V iennese provincial senate. T he dispute, having tu rn e d constitutional,
was h a n d e d over to the highest c o u rt, which ru led in favor o f the province
o f V ie n n a .139 T h e conflict d e m o n s tra te d that the ch u rch was n o t invincible
a n d th a t a d e te rm in e d stand against anti-Semitic attacks c o u ld prevail (at
least in 1923). But this rem ain ed an isolated case, as did T a n d le rs cou rag e
in n o t giving way to h ate m ongering. T he SDAP r em ained leery o f challeng
ing th e ch u rc h o r o f fighting anti-Semitism with a raised v isor.140
T h e socialists p o p u la tio n politics was an explicit aspect o f the V iennese
system o f welfare. E n v iro n m en t a n d biology w ere to be c o m b in ed to p r o
d u c e ne u e M en schen a n d o rderly w orker families.141 T he municipalitys
system o f social co n tro l in clud ed welfare an d health care, the police and
judiciary, as well as such pedagogical institutions as kin dergarten s a n d a fte r
school centers. T h e m ost intense application o f th e co m bin ed force o f these
institutions took place in th e largest m unicipal ho usin g projects, w here
b ra n c h e s o f m any o f these agencies (m o th ers a n d youth consultation clin
ics, k in d ergarten s an d health clinics, etc.) w ere part o f th e com m u nal facil
ities. In short, the socialists c o n ception o f welfare as well as o f public ho us
ing was p red icated on (he creatio n of a su p e rio r environm ent (domicile o r

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73

family) th ro u g h in terv en tio n by leaders and e x p erts in the daily lives o f


w orkers. T he n o tio n th a t w orkers were malleable objects ready fo r tra n s
fo rm a tio n fro m above h a rk e d back to a p re su m p tio n o f A ustrom arxism that
w orkers suffered fro m a cultural amnesia, p erm ittin g the im p rinting o f
ideas a n d practices o f a h ig h e r socialist o rd e r. In using a pow erful m unicipal
welfare policy to f u r th e r th eir goal o f creatin g n eu e M en schen , the SDAP
so ug h t to o p e n th e way fo r a fu n d am en tal change in the behavior o f w ork
ers. M unicipal socialism p r e p a r e d th e working-class com m unities for the
in tro d u c tio n a n d diffusion o f a socialist party c u ltu re th a t would com plete
th e m aking o f a new p ro le ta ria n form o f existence.

P u b lic E ducation: Equality for W orkers


and R is in g E x p e c ta tio n s
I f the re fo rm o f housing, health, and welfare fo rm ed a unity in the SD A Ps
quest to im plant m unicipal socialism, its educational goals w ere b o th p a rt
o f that fram ew ork a n d w ent beyo n d it. T h e socialists view o f the com plex
in stitu tio n o f e d u c a tio n h a rk e d back to o n e o f the fu nd am ental ten ets o f
A ustrom arxism , that B ildung fo r the w orkers was the fo u n d a tio n u p o n
which a tran sfo rm atio n al s tru c tu re fo r the creatio n o f n e u e M en sch en
w ould have to be built. B ut B ildung was m uch m o re th a n educational fo r
malism based in public institutions. In included a wide range o f party o rg a
nizations a n d activities to e d u c a te w orkers a n d w orkers alone. In e d u c a
tion m o re than any o th e r socialist m unicipal re fo rm effort, that distinction
betw een the c en tral a n d select public o f w orkers a n d the public at large was
decisive. F o r th a t reaso n, perh ap s, the socialist effort to m ake fu nd am ental
changes in public e d u c a tio n ap p e a rs to have b e e n less than a com plete com
m itm ent. As we shall see in c h a p te r 4, party B ildung served n o t only as a
su p p le m e n t to public ed ucation; it also assum ed th e role o f an alternative.
In a tte m p tin g to re fo rm public e d u catio n along egalitarian lines o f
access to h ig h e r lea rn in g so as to give working-class children an o p p o r
tunity to go b e y o nd existing class-based limits the SDAP challenged b o th
class a n d religious interests in the C hristian Social party. By h olding o u t the
p rom ise o f equality o f o p p o rtu n ity , the SDAP a tte m p te d to c reate a climate
o f rising expectations, laying the g ro u n d fo r the p a rty s tran sfo rm atio n al
cu ltu ral p ro g ram . But equality o f access to h ig h e r ed u c a tio n based on m erit
was an am biguous quest. I f successful, it w ould p ro d u c e a substantial n u m
b e r o f professionals fro m am o n g the w orkers (welfare officers, school and
k in d e rg a rte n teachers, physicians, lawyers, engineers, etc.). If they could
n o t all be ab so rb e d in to the m unicipal service which was highly unlikely
th e n o r in th e n e a r f u tu r e these sons a n d d a u g h te rs o f w orkers, advan
taged by ability, would be in d a n g e r o f ab an d o n in g th eir class fo r the posi
tions a n d e m o lu m e n ts only the b ourgeois w orld could offer.
T h e th re e cardinal goals o f e d u catio n u n d e r the m on arch y to create
submissive subjects, to accept the hierarchical u p p e r a n d lower o rd e rs, and

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to s u p p o rt the military an d the c h u rc h w ere qu ite typical fo r conservative


s tates.142 T h e s ta te , Stefan Zweig recalls, exploited th e school as an
in stru m e n t o f its authority. A bove all we w ere to be e d u c a te d to resp ect that
which existed everywhere as perfect: the o pin io n o f the teachers as u n e r r
ing; th e w ords o f o n e s fa th e r as incontrovertible; a n d the organization o f
th e state as absolute an d eternally valid. 143 Liberal legislation in 1 8 6 7 -6 9
h a d established the im p o rtan t p rinciple o f separation o f school a n d church,
w hereby the en d in g o f religious practices in and by th e schools was
im plicit.144 By the time o f the f o u n d in g o f th e republic, however, the m ean
in g o r spirit o f this law h a d be e n b lu rre d ; religious observances such as com
m un io n , mass, a n d assem bling fo r processions were c arried o u t in an d by
th e schools by priests stationed th e re to give religious instruction. T he o th e r
significant liberal re fo rm o f th e 1860s was the institution o f m a n datory p u b
lic elem en tary edu c a tio n which was to last fo r five years a n d be c arried o u t
in public schools o p e n to all.
A ro u n d th e tu rn o f the centu ry liberals, Freem asons, a n d socialists in
se p a ra te as well as com m o n organizations attacked th e m o no p oly o f e d u
cation by the p ro p e rtie d classes a n d d e m a n d e d the creatio n o f a m erit-orie n te d system o f high er ed ucation th a t would provide an equal o p p o rtu n ity
fo r everyone. A r e fo rm g ro u p called Die Ju n g e n , consisting o f socialist ele
m en tary schoolteachers, was f o u n d e d in V ienna in 1898 a n d jo in e d forces
w ith liberals a n d Freem asons to c reate th e re fo rm organization Freie Schule
in 1 9 0 5 .145 I n b o th these organizations two teachers, Karl Seitz, later m ayor
o f V ienna, a n d O tto Glockel, la te r m unicipal councillor fo r education,
played a central role in p re p a rin g a p ro g ra m fo r reform . It included com
plete se p a ra tio n o f school a n d ch urch ; rep lacem en t o f religious education
by in stru c tio n in m orality a n d law; free books a n d m aterials to all, as well as
financial su p p o rt fo r needy students; th e creation o f kin d erg arten s and
after-school centers; a m axim um class size o f thirty, a n d freed o m o f teach
ing m ethods; a n d above all, equality o f o p p o rtu n ity in h ig h er e d u c a tio n .146
Many o f these proposals h a d be e n a n ticipated in the SDAP congress p r o
gra m in 1 90 0 .147 Shortly befo re a n d d u rin g the war, in terest in a n d su p p o rt
fo r ed ucation al re fo rm becam e m o re w idespread, a n d re p rin ts o f the 1905
p ro g ra m a p p e a re d in the socialist p a m p h le t literature. But only war, defeat,
th e collapse o f th e m onarchy, a n d th e creatio n o f the republic p u t edu catio n
o n the a g en d a f o r a ction .148
T h e a p p o in tm e n t o f O tto Glockel as u n d e rse c re ta ry fo r edu c a tio n d u r
ing th e socialist-led coalition g o v ern m en t (1 9 1 9 -2 0 ) pu t the right m an in
th e righ t place a t th e right time. H e m oved quickly to re sto re A ustrian e d u
cation to the principles laid dow n by th e law o f 1869 by issuing a directive
term in a tin g th e obligation o f s tud ents to p articipate in religious practices
in th e schools (mass, confession, processions, etc.). H e left intact, however,
m a n d a to ry religious instruction in all public schools anti, as we shall see,
allowed th e c h u rc h to rem ain a significant presence in public e d u c a tio n .149
In th e sh ort time available to him h e left with the fall o f the coalition in
O c to b e r 1920 lie | >i11 in d r a f t form the essential features ol the reform s

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75

which h a d b een dev elo ped b a t d o rm a n t b e fo re the war. C entral to smaller


practical m easures was a plan to re s tru c tu re com pulsory ed ucation from six
to fo u rte e n years o f age in such a way as to provide the highest level o f e d u
cation fo r everyone in co m m o n elem entary an d high schools, thus p o stp o n
ing w ork a n d c a re e r trackin g to the term inal d a te o f com pulsory school
in g .150 In th e federal g o v e rn m e n t Glockel was replaced by C hristian Social
m inisters who did th e ir best to shelve his proposals fo r im proving the
national educational system. They were unable, however, to revoke his decree
b a rrin g religious practices in th e schools, since it was up h eld by a con stitu
tional law th a t c o u ld b e a lte re d only by a tw o-thirds m ajority in parliam ent.
Like o th e r socialist refo rm ers, Glockel fo u n d his a re n a o f activity
re d u c e d to Vienna, w h ere he becam e ch airm an o f the citys educational
council in 1922. T h e re , school re fo rm becam e a n integral p a rt o f the m u n
icipalitys social policy, especially its c o n c e rn fo r child w elfare.151 T hus
health care autom atically becam e p a rt o f th e school p rog ram , with 50 phy
sicians, 210 social w orkers, a n d 11 d en tal clinics p articip atin g directly.152
Practical im p ro vem ents initiated by th e m unicipal councils e d ucation
d e p a rtm e n t in cluded free schoolbooks a n d edu cation al m aterials fo r all
pupils, regardless o f n e e d 153; abolition o f physical p u nishm ent; creation o f
school libraries fo r pupils an d a pedagogical central library fo r teachers;
adm ission o f w om en to th e study o f law, eng ineering , a n d agronom y; a b o
lition o f political c riteria in th e selection o f teachers; en d in g th e re q u ire d
celibacy o f fem ale teachers; a n d the c re a tio n o f p a re n ts associations in each
local school d istric t.154
W hereas these refo rm s exem plified so u n d m unicipal gov ern m en t, they
w ere hardly earth-shaking. F ar m o re am bitious was G lockels attem pt to
r e s tru c tu re com pulsory e d u catio n so as to provide equality o f access to
h ig h e r e d u c a tio n fo r working-class children, w ho u p to th e n h a d b een vir
tually e x clu d ed fro m such o p p o rtu n itie s. H e p ro p o se d th at m iddle schools
b e c re a te d fo r all children b etw een th e ages o f ten a n d f o u rte e n , with a c u r
riculum th a t p rov ided co m m on , en ric h e d core subjects (m athem atics a n d
G erm an) fo r all, yet at the sam e time was flexible e n o u g h to allow the study
o f foreign languages a n d o th e r specialized subjects re q u ire d by the Gym
nasium a n d the Realschule, step p in g stones to university ed u catio n a n d the
h ig h er p ro fessio n s.155 T h e novelty o f this p ro ject lay in the p o stp o n e m e n t
o f tracking until the e n d o f com pulsory ed ucation at age fo u rte e n . T hat goal
was to be g u a ra n te e d by the core curriculum . But beyond that, student-initiated stream in g w ould lead to various po stsecondary choices: the h ig h er
e d u c a tio n already m en tio n ed ; vocational w orkday tra in in g along with
a p p ren ticesh ip ; a n d technical studies in special institutes f o r su b pro fes
sional positions.
Such radical stru c tu ra l changes also re q u ire d the dev elop m en t o f new
c u rricula a n d teaching m ethods. As Glockel later p u t it, the drill sch oo l
o f the g ra n d p a re n ts g e n e ra tio n h ad served to instill the au th o rity o f ch u rc h
a n d crow n plus a little o f th e th re e Rs; the le arnin g sch o ol until 1919 had
p r e p a re d the general p o p u latio n for work a n d a select lew fo r skilled tech

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nical jo b s a n d th e professions; the w ork school being c re a te d w ould base


its c u rric u lu m o n th e life ex perience o f students, replace ro te learn in g with
in d e p e n d e n t study an d self-discovery, su p p le m e n t intellectual with m anual
learning, a n d make the city as well as th e classroom the school e n viron
m e n t.11 T he w ork schools w ere to b ecom e the in cu b ato rs o f dem ocracy
grow ing o u t o f the co o p e ra tio n o f teachers, stu den ts, a n d p a re n ts .157
E xperim ental re stru c tu rin g was c arried o u t first in th ree, later in twelve
m iddle schools in V ienna, which by 1926 c o n tain ed a b o u t 9 p e rc e n t o f all
secondary s tu d e n ts .l58T o p re p a re teach ers fo r the d esired new motivational
m ethods, a pedagogical institute was cre a te d by th e municipality. Its lectu r
ers included A lfred Adler, th e developm ental psychologists Karl a n d C h a r
lotte Bhler, a n d A nna F reud. H ow influential was this institute? T h e te n
dency has been, th en a n d now, to suggest th at the influence o f m o d e rn
psychology a n d pedagogy available to a very small elite o f teachers in train
ing was som ehow generalized th ro u g h o u t the Viennese school system,
w h ere it becam e in stru m en tal in re d u c in g th e a u th o rita ria n featu res o f
in stru c tio n .159 As im p o rta n t as the m ethodological innovations o ffered at
th e pedagogical institute may have b een , it is very d o u b tfu l th a t they had
any effect o n w hat w ent on in m ost classrooms, w here teach ers tra in e d at
o th e r times a n d with o th e r orie n ta tio n s prevailed. It is also very unlikely that
m o re than a few o f the new progressive teachers c ould have been placed,
c o n siderin g th e radical decline o f stu d e n ts by nearly 45 p e rc e n t betw een
1915 an d 1923, which p ro d u c e d a surplus o f teachers until 1 9 2 9 .160 By then
th e e x p e rim e n t in re stru c tu rin g h a d collapsed.
T h e new m iddle-school c o n c e p t was first tried o u t in six fo rm e r military
academ ies in a n d outside V ienna, which Glockel co n v erted into federal e d u
cational institutes (Bundeserziehungsanstalten) with the directive to select the
m ost gifted a m o n g working-class ch ild ren an d to im plem ent th e full range
o f c urricu la a n d m ethodological innovations being devised.IM T h e re is little
evidence, except fo r th e stro n g opin io n s o f fo rm e r old boys o r latter-day
enthusiasts, to d e te rm in e w h e th e r the teach ers in these institutes w ere suf
ficiently d ifferent from th e n orm al ru n to make the ex p ected d em o cratiza
tio n o f the whole school ex p erien ce possible. O n e alum nus recalls th at the
g uiding principles w ere d e m ocratizatio n o f the school, anim ation o f
instruction, a n d socialization o f e d u c a tio n . 162 A g ra d u a te o f the new
Glockel institute fo r girls in V ienna re p o rts th a t the teachers were simply
taken over fro m th e institute fo r th e e d u catio n o f th e d a u g h te rs o f arm y
officers it h a d replaced, a situation w hich p ro d u c e d pedagogical tensio ns.163
A n o th e r alum n u s re c o u n ts in g re a te r detail th at all re fo rm efforts w ere sab
o ta g e d by the teach ers e ith e r th e fo rm e r instru cto rs o f cadets, who as cler
icalists an d m onarchists d e te ste d th e republic, o r relocated in structo rs from
G e rm a n schools in Czechoslovakian cities who re m a in e d loyal to th eir PanG erm anism dow n to s u p p o rtin g the A ustrian Nazis in the early 1930s. This
eyewitness fo u n d little evidence o f dem ocracy: w orkers w ere d e n o u n c e d as
riffraff in tin1classroom , an d Marxists w ere designated tra ito rs.114 W hatever

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c h a ra c te r th eir p ro g ra m in practice m ight have had, these institutes were


e x p e rim e n ts th at could n o t be replicated o r generalized.
T h ro u g h o u t th e p e rio d the socialists, a n d especially Glockel himself, lost
n o o p p o rtu n ity to proclaim the excellence, inventiveness, and in com p ara
bleness o f th e ir ed u catio n al re fo rm p ro g ram . It is small w onder, said
Glockel, in view o f th e organization a n d attain m en ts o f its w orking class,
th at today A ustria stands in th e fro n t rank o f civilized co un tries in e d uca
tional in novation an d th at V ienna has becom e the destination o f pedagog
ical e x p e rts the w orld over. Justly, V ienna can claim the p ro u d title o f city
o f school r e f o r m . 165 R ecent A ustrian histories o f the w orking class have
m ad e th e ir c o n trib u tio n to re p e a tin g what, in th e face o f only a cursory
glance at refo rm s a tte m p te d a n d accom plished elsewhere, is a p aten t
e x a g g e ra tio n .166
A quick survey o f ed ucational re fo rm efforts in the W eim ar Republic
(Berlin, F ran k fu rt, H am b u rg ) reveals im p o rta n t parallels with the Viennese
e x perim ents, b o th in p o stp o n in g tracking to increase working-class access
to h ig h er schooling, a n d in a ttem p ts to enrich cu rricu la a n d teaching m e th
o d s .167 T h e British L a b o u r p a rty s very s tro n g ed ucational re fo rm p ro g ra m
o f 1923 d e m a n d e d access to secondary school at age eleven o r over fo r all
children, a n d th e H ado w Com m ission established by L a b o u r succeeded in
im p lem en tin g com pulsory school a tte n d a n c e th ro u g h age fifteen as o f
1926. This m eant th at by th e early 1930s a m ajority o f English a n d Welsh
children, who b egan at age five, had ten years o f schooling. As fo r e x p eri
m en ta tio n with new m e th o d s u n d e r th e influence o f psychology, b oth A. S.
Neills Sum m erhill, f o u n d e d in 1924, a n d B e rtra n d Russells Frensham
H eights, f o u n d e d in 1926, in co nc e p tio n a n d scope p u t th e V iennese
atte m p ts in th e sh a d e .168 T h e m ost obvious challenge to the V iennese social
ists claims to lead ersh ip in educational re fo rm com es from the U nited
States. A long list o f its egalitarian stru c tu re s a n d m o d e rn m ethods m ight
b e devised. Suffice it to say that university edu c a tio n was available and
so ug h t by a substantial n u m b e r o f working-class youth (who had finished the
c o m pulsory co m m o n secondary school) in state a n d m unicipal colleges an d
universities w here tuition was f r e e .169
W ith a c ertain confidence th at belied political realities, the SDAP m ade
th e V iennese school re fo rm a key elem ent o f its national p ro g ra m at the
Linz party congress in 1 9 26 .170 It was a time o f relative calm betw een the
two political cam ps, which also m arked a sta n d o ff betw een d o c k e t 's o p e r
ation in V ienna a n d th e ever hostile Ministry o f Education. T he a p p o in t
m en t o f R ichard Schmitz, a m ilitant C atholic a n d close associate o f Seipel,
as m inister quickly b ro u g h t the conflict betw een the federal go vern m ent
a n d th e V iennese municipality to a h e a d .171 Schmitz p re se n te d a list o f
guidelines to be u sed in d ra ftin g a national e d u catio n law to p ro p o se to p a r
liament. Its salient fe a tu re was an unqualified rejectio n o f Glockels a ttem pt
to re d u c e the class m onopoly o f h ig h er e d u catio n by p o stp o n in g tracking
until th e e n d o f a co m m o n secondary school.

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Negotiations by the SDAP a n d Christian Social party a b o u t the guide


lines were in te rru p te d first by the election o f 1927, in which the socialists
scored a m arked increase to 4 2.3 p e rc e n t, a n d by the violent events o f July
15. W hat o c c u rre d in the n egotiations th e re a fte r, when the socialists were
n o do u b t still s tu n n e d by the im plications o f an a p p a re n t b u t u n ad m itted
setback, rem ains unknow n. W e learn a b o u t an alleged com pro m ise fro m the
socialists in late au tu m n o f 1927, w hen a national e d u catio n act was passed
with the m an dato ry tw o-thirds m ajority, indicating th at the SDAP had
approved the m e a su re .172 It was a case o f the socialists claiming victory in
the face o f d efeat when they labeled a c o m p ro m ise w hat was a p a te n t rev
ocation o f the Viennese m unicipalitys re fo rm effort. In place o f the com
m on, obligatory, en ric h e d m iddle school allowing fo r tracking at age fo u r
teen, dual tracks at age ten w ere a d o p te d with the proviso th a t a select
n u m b e r o f the best stu d ents in the H a u p tsc h u le w ould be p e rm itte d to take
exam inations to e n te r college p re p a ra to ry schools. This federal law e n d e d
the Viennese school reform ; n o fu r th e r a ttem p ts were m ade to d e e p e n o r
ex ten d the experim ent.
T h e socialists virtual capitulation rem ains a mystery. T h e collapse o f the
V iennese school refo rm has b e e n universally in te rp re te d as a co n sequence
o f the m achinations o f the Christian Socials at th e national level (though
w ithout elucidating why the socialists c a pitulated).1731 would like to o ffer an
alternative o r at least su pp lem entary explan atio n fo r the socialists failure
in dem ocratizing the access to form al ed u c a tio n a n d th ereby to make avail
able to the working class this traditional p a th to Bildung. T he Glockel e x p e r
im ent failed fo r a n u m b e r o f reasons: th e re fo rm e rs relu ctan ce to deal with
the pow erful o pposition in th e schools exercised by the ch urch ; th eir failure
to reach the corps o f teachers, who w ere u n p r e p a r e d fo r radical changes in
th eir status a n d professional activity; th e ir assum ption that e d u catio n could
be value-free; a n d th eir blindness to the educational expectations and
related econom ic limits o f working-class families, children, a n d youth.
F ro m Glockels first efforts to th e socialists capitulation in 1927, the
m ost pow erful o p p o n e n t o f any secular re fo rm o f the schools was the
church. In April 1919 Glockel h a d struck an im p o rtan t blow fo r secular
e du catio n by d ecre e in g the r e tu r n to th e principles o f the 1869 re fo rm law
in abolishing religious practices in all schools.174 This merely red u ced, but
did n o t eliminate, the influence o f the ch u rch on education. Priests
rem ain ed in th e schools by v irtu re o f th e co n tin u a tio n o f com pulsory reli
gious instru ctio n a n d served as a fifth c o lu m n eng ag ed in g uerrilla war
fare against the reform s in V ienna. Religious instruction rem ain ed strictly
en fo rced , consisting o f on e a fte rn o o n a week w hen the Catholic priest
w ould com e to the classroom, d ispatching children o f m inority religions to
th eir lessons elsewhere. A tte n d a n c e at religious in stru ctio n was m a nd ated
by law; w ithout a g rad e in the subject, o n e could no t be p ro m o te d to the
next class. Only those could be e x e m p te d whose p a re n ts h a d formally
re n o u n c e d th eir confession b e fo re th eir children had reach ed their seventh

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b irthday. T hus, c o n siderin g the large n u m b e r o f resignations from the


C atholic c h u rc h a fte r 1927, m any p a re n ts w ho had becom e freethinkers
w ere fo rced to send th e ir offspring fo r instru ctio n , until th e age o f fo u rteen,
in o n e o f th e religions recognized by the state.
Since the ch u rc h laid claim to con tro lling e d u catio n in place o f the
m unicipality a n d sta te ,175 its co n tin u e d presence as a hostile force u n d e r
m ined th e socialists re fo rm efforts fro m the beginning. C ould the socialists
have ban ish ed th e c h u rc h from th e schools? T h e re was at least one im p o r
tant historical p re c e d e n t fo r such action in a C atholic country. In France
th e fam ous Ju les F erry Laws o f th e 1880s, in p roh ibitin g all religious
in stru ctio n by teach ers in state schools, cre a te d a public school system that
was free, lay, a n d com pulsory at th e elem entary level.I7tt T h e corps o f secular
teachers cre a te d at that tim e becam e th e stanchest d efen d ers o f republican
F ran ce a n d acted to dim inish the influence o f th e Catholic c h u rc h in public
life in general.
I am inclined to answ er the q uestion a b o u t the feasibility o f banishing
th e c h u rc h from th e schools in th e affirmative, bu t only at one crucial p oint
in time. In April 1919, w hen Glckel issued his d ecree, Soviet republics held
sway in n e ig h b o rin g Bavaria a n d H ungary, Bolshevik ideas h a d currency
am o n g dem obilized soldiers a n d in the radicalized w orkers councils, and
the old p ow er s tru c tu re was d iscredited by military defeat. Fear that this
co n ta g io n o f revolution might infect A ustria as well was w idespread am ong
the C hristian Social leadership a n d in the Vatican. T he newly cre a te d r e p u b
lic was th e n u n d e r a coalition g o v ern m ent d o m in a te d by the socialists, who
by playing on the fears o f the o pposition could have fo rced th ro u g h a twothirds vote abolishing the p resence o f religion in the schools. Such an
o p p o rtu n ity did n o t p re se n t itself again; what a m o u n te d to a clerical
re p u b lic was a c cep ted by th e socialists in place o f the dem ocratic on e to
which they a s p ire d .177
A lth o ug h Glckel a n d o th e r socialist ed ucation al re fo rm e rs realized the
im p o rta n c e o f c o nv erting the corps o f public schoolteachers to their views,
they fo u n d it nearly im possible to change ingrained co ncep tio n s o f p ro fe s
sional p rerog ativ e a m o n g th e m o r to b rin g in a significant n u m b e r o f young
teach ers c o n v e rte d to th e new objectives a n d train ed in th e new m ethods.
It is to G lckels c red it that he kept o n all th e teachers who norm ally w ould
have b e e n re n d e re d sup erfluo u s by the decline in stu d en ts o f som e 45 p e r
c ent in th e im m ediate po stw ar years. This h u m a n ita ria n decision left the
teach ing staffs heavily balan ced against dem o cratizatio n a n d o th e r reform s.
By 1930, a m o n g teachers o rganized in associations, the P an -G erm an s te r
reichische L e h re rb u n d had 10,000 to 11,000 m em bers, the C hristian Social
K atholischer L e h re rb u n d f r sterreich h a d 10,000, a n d the SD A Ps own
Sozialistischer L e h re rv e rb a n d h a d 5 ,0 0 0 .178 G lckels a tte m p t to neutralize
a potentially hostile political climate a m o n g teachers, by d em a n d in g th at all
politics be kept fro m th e schools, was totally unrealistic in a municipal and
natio nal en v iro n m e n t su p e rsa tu ra te d with c o n fro n tatio n al politics.,7!l

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M oreover, it ex p o sed him to quite ju stified attacks within his own ranks fo r
having a d o p te d th e non-M arxist view th a t pedagogy was som ehow a neutral
science.180
T h a t th e socialist city fathers su ffered fro m a lack o f realism was espe
cially a p p a re n t in th e ir belief th at the ed ucational re fo rm p ro g ra m they
strug g led to p u t in place was d esired by th e Viennese w orking class o r was
high on its agend a o f needs. Given th e low wages a n d the n e e d fo r young
peop le residing with th eir p a re n ts to c o n trib u te to th e m eager h ousehold
bu dg et, h ig h e r e d ucation , even if the fees were paid by so m eo n e else, still
m ean t th a t th e family h a d to u n d e rta k e the impossible task o f s u p p o rtin g
o n e o f its m em bers fo r years to c o m e .181 As a co n seq uen ce o f this blocked
p ath , working-class families h a d little use fo r talk o f the professions fo r their
offspring. V ocational trainin g leading to b e tte r skills, a m ore qualified jo b ,
a n d h ig h er pay was a n o th e r m atter. But that lay within existing workingclass no rm s o f expectation. T h e re w ere m o re incentives d u rin g the period
fo r skills c re a te d by the increase in white-collar jo b s , and the one-child fam
ily was in a b e tte r position to m ake sacrifices fo r the econom ic a dvancem ent
o f th e ir offspring. Ju d g in g fro m som e absenteeism record s in a typical work
ing-class district, schooling fo r its ow n sake, including enrich m en ts, was n o t
highly r e g a r d e d .182
W ho a m o n g th e w orkers in the socialist cam p were able to benefit from
ed ucation al reform s? T h e traditional answ er w ould be the single children o f
better-off skilled w orkers able to sh o u ld e r the financial b u rd e n o f m aintain
ing a n o n c o n trib u tin g youth past the age o f fo u rteen . But such families also
su ffered fro m insecurity caused by co n tin u o u s high levels o f un em p loy m en t
(am ong skilled w orkers in m etal trades, fo r instance). M ore likely, it was the
ch ild ren o f p aid party fu n ctio naries a n d socialist m unicipal employees with
secu re a n d b e tte r-p a id positions who could take advantage o f en rich m en t
a n d m o re equal access to h ig h er e d u c a tio n .183 This brings us to a central
q uestio n re g a rd in g m unicipal socialism a n d ultimately th e Socialist party
c u ltu re as well: which w orkers w ere the actual audience, who a n d how m any
p a rtic ip a te d o r w ere influenced indirectly? T hese questions a p p e a r n o t to
have tro u b le d socialist leaders at th e time. I f th e ir m unicipal refo rm
atte m p ts fell sh o rt o f setting the stage fo r creatin g n e u e M en sch en, the
p a rty s own p ro g ra m o f B ildung was b eing devised a n d e x te n d e d daily to d o
j u s t th a t a n d in a c o n tex t th a t was securely socialist.

CHAPTER 4

Socialist Party Culture

By 1 9 3 1 -3 2 the SD A Ps loose netw ork o f m o re than forty cultural o rg an i


zations re gistered an ag g reg ate o f som e 4 0 0 ,0 0 0 m em bers in V ien n a.1 Even
if o n e adjusts this figure because o f the duplicate listing o f su bo rd inate
organizations a n d th e ir p a re n t bodies a n d th e typically m ultiple m e m b e r
ships o f individual w orkers, an impressive n u m b e r o f participants in the p a r
tys c ultural activities rem ain s.2 T h e size o f cultural und ertakin gs is n o t su r
prising w hen o n e considers th at SDAP m em b ersh ip in V ienna was 4 2 5,000,
th a t o f th e tra d e u n io n s 37 5 ,0 0 0 , a n d that o f the te n a n ts organizations
1 50 ,0 0 0.3 Such a high level o f organization alone m ade the V iennese cul
tu ral ex p e rim e n t u n iq u e a m o n g socialist parties outside the Soviet U nion in
the in terw ar years. A ltho u gh th e re w ere similar c ultural efforts by the G er
m an Socialist a n d C o m m u n ist parties, no w h ere else did the atte m p t to c re
ate a p ro le ta ria n c o u n te rc u ltu re rest on a socialist-controlled m etropolis
that h a d c re a te d a solid fo u n d a tio n o f m unicipal socialism as th e basis fo r a
party cu ltu re. D espite all th e shortcom ings o f the SD A Ps ex p erim en t
(which will b ecom e a p p a r e n t in the course o f this chapter), th e collective
effect o f m em b ersh ips a n d m unicipal p ow er s tru c tu re o n the m entality o f
the V iennese w orking class, th o u g h by n o m eans m easurable, should be kept
in mind.
D espite the SD A Ps co m m itm ent to c reatin g a specific w orker culture,
it at n o tim e exercised com p lete co n tro l over o r was able to co o rd in a te the
far-flung collection o f o rganizations th at laid claim to fu rth e rin g socialist
culture. In d eed , th e relatio nsh ip betw een a g oo d n u m b e r o f these and the
political aims o f th e party, o r even a vague socialism, was n e ith e r a p p a re n t
n o r real. Som e o f th e m d a te d fro m th e form ative years o f the party o r even
p re c e d e d its fo rm a tio n (singing, cycling, n atu re); o th e rs w ere c reated by
small g ro u p s o f w orkers sh arin g co m m o n interests (chess, E speran to , ani
mals). Many o f these served the in terest o f party cadres, who gained satis
faction a n d reco gn itio n fro m m aking th e organization work a n d its p ro
gram s r u n .4 T o o o fte n such organizations shielded themselves from
criticism within th e party in th eir single-m inded devotion to the num erical
g row th o f th eir e n te rp rise s an d pro liferatio n o f time-serving m eetings,

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which sapp ed th e ir m e m b e rs energies w ithout providing m uch cultural


c o n ten t. T h e sh e e r n u m b e r a n d diversity o f organizations led to a flitting
fro m place to place and, because they all d e m a n d e d m odest m em bership
fees, c o n stitu te d a financial b u r d e n o n in terested w orkers.5
C om plaints a b o u t th e dissipation o f cultural efforts in useless duplica
tion a n d co m petition a m o n g organizations, an d d em and s for a rationaliza
tion o f cu ltu ral work, fell on d e a f ears.6 M iddle functio n aries a n d party lead
ers e n g ag ed in th e b u re a u c ra tic a p p a ra tu s w ere to o far rem o v ed from the
daily life o f n u m e ro u s esoteric organizations to establish real contacts an d
make th eir criticism felt. A nd, as we shall see, criticism o f the cultural p r o
gram as a whole was fairly freely ex pressed in party publications w ithout
having th e slightest im pact o n th e c o n te n t o r direction o f the work being
carrie d on.
N ot all th e SD A Ps cultural efforts w ere as dispersed a n d nond irectio nal
as th e interests o f socialist teetotalers, folklorists, o r freethin kers m ight sug
gest. Two organizations, c re a te d n o t at the grass ro o ts b u t by the p a rty s
executive co m m ittee itself, a tte m p te d to give a focus to th e th eoretical and
strategic place o f a d ire c te d a n d carefully guid ed cultural p ro g ra m in the
SD A Ps a tte m p t to c reate n e u e M en schen . T he Sozialistische Bildungszentrale (socialist cu ltu ral center), ru d im e n ts o f which existed as early as
1908, c o o rd in a te d a n d co n tro lle d a variety o f activities: press a n d publica
tion, th e lecture d e p a rtm e n t, w ork er libraries, schools fo r party fu n c tio n
aries, festival c u ltu re, a n d excursions a n d vacations. It o p e ra te d o n a
national level, alth o u g h m ost o f its efforts w ere p u rs u e d in V ienna.7 The
Sozialdem okratische K unststelle (socialist a rt center) was c h arged by the
V iennese m unicipal council in 1919 with brin g in g music, the a te r, a n d the
arts to workers, em ployees, a n d students. It to o h a d roo ts in earlier w orker
music a n d th e a te r organizations (A rbeitersym phoniekonzerte a n d Freie
V olksbhne) a n d eventually in clud ed radio a n d the film am o n g the artistic
offerings u n d e r its d ire c tio n .8 F ro m time to tim e these d o m inan t bodies
re a c h e d o u t to ad m o n ish o r re o rie n t on e o f th e myriad prim ary organiza
tions such as the R adio C lub o r the Association fo r S p orts a n d Body
C u ltu re.
T h ro u g h o u t th e First Republic the Socialist p a rty s cultural p ro g ram
was guided, how ever indirectly, by several im p o rta n t perspectives which
c o n ta in e d in su rm o u n ta b le contradictions: (1) to a p p ro p ria te fo r th e w ork
ers the best o f e lite /b o u rg e o is culture, a n d at the same tim e to create a
closed p ro le ta ria n c o u n te rc u ltu re com m itted to the class struggle fo r a
socialist society; (2) to provide fo r collective r a th e r than individual cultural
d ev elo p m en t o f workers; a n d (3) to safegu ard a n d w ork within the d e m o
cratic institutions o f the rep ub lican state a n d to com bat the class state at the
same time. A lthough the in te n tio n o f the SDAP leaders was to b len d culture
a n d politics in th eir tra n sfo rm a tio n o f th e working class, increasingly a fter
1927, as th e political o p p osition becam e m o re com bative a n d B a u e rs th e
ory o f th e balance o f class forces becam e m o re illusory, the cultural e x p e r
iment becam e a c o m p en satio n for political powerlessness.'1 In what follows

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83

I shall exam ine Socialist party c u ltu re from several perspectives: elite cul
tu re a n d c u ltu re theory; the pow er o f the w ritten a n d spoken work; and the
a tte m p ts to en ric h a n d e n n o b le th e w o rkers artistic taste. T he im pact o f
these was re stric te d to a m inority o f the ran k a n d file. Sports and w orker
festivals, my last subject fo r discussion, were th e most im p o rtan t cultural
fo rm s a tte m p tin g to eng ag e th e mass o f w orkers in activities th at w ere b o th
actual and symbolic.

E lite C ulture R ejec ted and D e sir ed


F ro m the earliest days o f p re w a r social dem ocracy to the e n d o f the First
Republic, socialist leaders w restled with the role o f cu ltu re in the p a rty s
efforts a n d aims. A subtext o f alm ost all p ro n o u n c e m e n ts on the subject was
th e difficulty o f striking a balance b etw een the w o rkers right to the cultural
in h e rita n c e which had b een d e n ie d th em a n d the n e e d to fashion a culture
expressive o f th eir own class. Reflections o n the subject by the doyens o f the
SDAP reveal a c o n tin u o u s c o n trad iction in the relationship betw een a
d esired socialist c u ltu re a n d the existing b o urg eo is one. V ictor Adler, fath er
o f th e party, saw socialist c u ltu re arising in a struggle against lifeless an d
superficial bo u rgeois form s, as a tra n sfo rm a tio n o f these in the process o f
c re a tin g a socialist society in which a t r u e c u ltu re c o u ld be de v e lo p e d .10
E n g elb ert P e rn e rsto rfe r, a n o th e r f o u n d e r o f th e party, declared that the
goal o f social dem ocracy was to b rin g the w o rker to high c u ltu re a n d espe
cially to the classical (G erm an) in h e rita n c e .11 T h e am biguity o f these early
socialist positions reflects the d e e p ro o ts o f th e party in the liberal bourgeois
A ustrian tr a d itio n .12 It was a c entral elem en t in th e form ation a n d socializa
tion n o t only o f th e o ld e r g en e ra tio n b u t also o f the cultural party spokes
m en d u rin g the republic. T h e old liberal slogan know ledge is pow er, e d u
cation makes you fre e was taken over by th e socialists a n d given a dual
meaning: w orkers had a com pen satory right to th e cultural p ro d u c ts o f soci
ety; w orkers m ust raise th e ir consciousness in o r d e r to wage the class
stru g g le .13
D espite an obvious a n d steadily increasing c o m m itm ent to creatin g a
party c u ltu re o n th e p a rt o f leading socialists, n o clear th eoretical fo rm u
lation e m e rg e d th a t m ight have be e n tran slated into an overall party po l
icy.14 T h e e n sh rin e d writings o f A u stro m arx ism s fo u n d e rs were too a m o r
p h o u s to serve as a guide. In 1924 Max A d ler a tte m p te d to clarify th e role
o f p arty cultural w ork in the shaping o f n e u e M ensch en. 15 This treatise
h a d th e stran ge f o rtu n e o f b ein g cited by virtually every socialist cultural
d ire c to r as a basis fo r th e work being carried on, b u t w ithout being u n d e r
sto o d by any o f them , a n d fo r g o o d reason. T h e cultural d evelopm ent and
e d uc a tio n o f th e w orkers, A d ler p ostulated , ca n n o t be n eu tral b u t m ust be
a part o f the p ro le ta ria n class struggle. As such, working-class c u ltu re m ust
m ake a d e te rm in e d b reak with th e old bourgeois world. It must be achieved
th ro u g h special organ ization s o f the proletariat an d serve as instrum ent of

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th e class struggle aim ed n o t at th e preservation o f p re s e n t conditions b u t at


th e d e stru c tio n o f class society. T h e goal o f such a revolutionary cultu re and
e d u c a tio n was n e u e M en schen the fu tu re -o rie n te d p re p a ra tio n o f a
new society in the soul o f m a n .
A lth o ug h the h o rta to ry to n e was clear, A dler said next to n o th in g a b o ut
tran slatin g these vague aphorism s into practical cultural work, save that the
p ro letariat c o u ld not learn fro m its own exp erience and had to forsw ear
m aterial a n d professional con cerns in striving fo r the socialist goal. T h e su r
est guide to that, he co ncluded, could be fo u n d in the books o f the great
socialist teachers as well as the classics o f G erm an philosophy, to g e th e r with
n atu ral science, history, an d th e econom ic laws o f societal processes
(M arxism ).16
I have dwelt on this work at som e length in o r d e r to d e m o n stra te two
im p o rta n t points: that o n e can clearly d e tect th e im p o rta n t con trad ictio n
b etw een re jectin g b ourgeois c u ltu re a n d u p h o ld in g its classics as a necessary
p a rt o f th e socialist cultural diet; th at such verbosity left the m eans by which
the SD A Ps cultural p ro g ra m was to be carrie d o u t u p to those directin g the
various activities. Elsewhere A d ler gave vent to a bom bastic self-congratulation o f th e SDAP (an all-too-com m on weakness, as we shall see) fo r d irect
ing the g reatest mass m ovem ent a n d cultural m ovem ent in history.17 T he
m ost p ro m in e n t review o f A d le rs tract, by O tto N e u ra th , subtly exposed
th e em pty p h rase m o n g e rin g o f th e w o rk .18 His central com plaint was th at
A dler h a d failed to characterize the pro letarian /socialist essence a n d that
h e h a d said too little a b o u t the n e u e M en schen which was th e subject o f
his work.
O tto N e u ra th com pletely re je c te d A d le rs view th a t only socialist m an
can c reate th e new society by positing the opposite: th a t only socialist society
can c reate socialist man. N e u ra th was th e fo u n d e r o f V ie n n a s Social an d
E conom ic M useum , in which his own creation, visual statistics (pictograms),
was f e a tu r e d .19 As a m e m b e r o f the fam ous V ienna Circle (Moritz Schlick,
O tto H a h n , a n d R u d olf C arnap), he was a rationalist; as an E picu rean he
re je c te d G e rm a n philosophy as being to o theological. F o r him, societal
d ev elo p m en t was based o n th e quality o f life, a n d from th at perspective he
believed th at th e socioeconom ic d evelop m ent o f capitalism was p re p a rin g
th e g r o u n d fo r socialism.20 A lth o ug h he d e m a n d e d that the o u tw ard form s
o f p ro le ta ria n culture, a rc h ite c tu re fo r instance, should n o t cling to b o u r
geois form s b u t use m o d e rn ones th at suggested fu tu re p ro le ta ria n pow er,21
h e re je c te d co n te m p o ra ry SDAP a ttem p ts to fo ste r special life-styles am ong
the yo u n g (antialcohol a n d antitobacco), including b o b b e d hair a n d short
dresses, as superficial enthusiasm s u n re la te d to th e class struggle a n d life
e x p e rie n c e o f th e w orking class as a w hole.22 In o r d e r to change p roletarian
life-style, th e e n tire existing p ow er relationship a n d social o r d e r had to be
changed. Only a fter victory, h e con clu d ed , could th e p ro letariat co m m an d
art a n d science, which were c u rre n tly in the h an d s o f the b o urg eo isie.23
N e u r a th s o ften tre n c h a n t critiqu e o f (he SD A Ps cultural efforts a n d o f
A dler, S tern, an d o th e r c u ltu re e x p e rts failed lo have any impact. It was p art

Socialist Party Culture

85

o f the s trang e fate o f criticism in the party that it a p p e a re d quite frequently


in its publications b u t in n o way d istu rb e d o r altered the cultural machine
at work. N ot only o n cultural questions b u t also on political strategy and
tactics, the SDAP was q u ite o p e n to criticism, so long as it did n o t th re a te n
th e co m m a n d s tru c tu re o f the party o r c reate m o re th an tem po rary divi
sions.24 N e u r a th s critique was special because it came from outside the p a r
tys cu ltu ral establishm ent. W hat m ad e it even m o re unaccep tab le to the
p a rty s cultural p ra c titio n e rs was the fact th a t it really left no ro o m fo r the
SD A Ps heavy c o m m itm e n t to a proletarian c o u n te rc u ltu re and justification
f o r th e w ork in progress.
T h e SD A Ps cultural d ire c to rs J o se p h L uitp old Stern, David Jo se p h
Bach, a n d R ichard W a g n e r refu sed to e n te r th e thickets o f high theory.
T hey w ere satisfied to o p e ra te with the liberal heritage that knowledge
equals pow er, which led th em to give full expression to an am biguity a b o ut
elite o r bo u rg eo is culture. W agner, th e leading figure in developing cultural
w ork in the tra d e u n io n s,25 insisted th at th e countless tem ptatio ns o f b o u r
geois c u ltu re w ere to be co m b a te d by working-class organizations.28 W hat
should a w o rk er c u ltu re d o b eyond stre n g th e n in g dem ocracy? he asked. In
th e long ru n , he re sp o n d e d , it should build class consciousness a n d the
p ow er o f socialist co n stru ctio n ; in the sh o rt r u n it should gain a share o f the
cultural goods o f the capitalist w orld.27 T h o u g h S te rn a n d o th e rs gave lip
service to the class struggle, politics a n d ideology virtually disap p eared in
the central place they a c c o rd e d to c u ltu re a n d pedagogy in p re p a rin g fo r a
socialist f u tu r e .28 T hey saw th eir mission in elevating the w orker fro m his
p re se n t im m aturity, with its p re fe re n c e fo r cultural p ro d u c ts o f low quality
(Schund a n d Kitsch), th a t h e m ight co nsum e his rightful share o f societys
best cultural p ro d u c ts.29
T h e qu estio n was: which p roducts? T he answers, by David J o se p h Bach
a n d o th ers, tried to ste e r a course betw een b o urgeois values to be c o n
d e m n e d a n d th e best p ro d u c ts o f th a t culture, which in th eir artistic excel
lence c o n ta in e d progressive elem ents a n d even revolutionary overtones that
a p r o p e r class analysis w ould make a p p a re n t.80 Elite c u ltu re was bo th a right
a n d necessary p a rt o f w o rk ers political e d ucation , S tern insisted, b u t only
a fte r social in te rp re ta tio n had filtered o u t its specific b ourgeois o rie n ta
tio n .11 O n closer exam ination, what c o n stitu te d excellence was generally
m o re narrow ly defined. T h e o ld e r ge n e ra tio n o f SDAP leaders, who set the
to n e o f the p a rty s cu ltu ral work, w ere co m m itted to passing on to the work
ers the bourgeois-hum anistic classical heritag e in which they had been
socialized.32 In effect that m eant a narrow ly d efined G erm anism . It is in te r
esting to n o te the total absence o f reflection a b o u t th e subjective n a tu re o f
cu ltu ral values, a b o u t th e force o f in h e rite d traditio n s which h ad shaped the
leaders themselves, a n d a b o u t the dialectical process by which m a tu re cul
tural ju d g m e n ts w ere personally arrived at. Y outhful predilections fo r trash
a n d kitsch seem ed to be forg otten; the classics sw eated th ro u g h in die
G ym nasium w ere elevated into universal stan d ard s o f excellence.
S t e r n s b a c k g r o u n d a n d a t t i t u d e s o n d i a l s u b j e c t . i r e p a r t i c u l a r l y r e v e a l

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ing. His intellectually form ative years h a d been sp en t in D resden, w here he


w orked o n th e Kunstwart in close association with F e rd in a n d Avenarius, a
p assionate follow er o f the G erm an nationalist ideology o f Julius Langb e h n .33 S te rn ap p e a rs to have b ro u g h t this o rie n ta tio n with him w hen he
assum ed dire c tio n o f th e B ildungszentrale in 1918. F ro m th e n on in the
SD A Ps p ro g ra m , uplifting th e w o rker to a h ig h er level o f c u ltu re was
e q u a te d with initiating him into G e rm a n national culture. But S tern was n o
exce p tio n in this n a rro w definition o f cultural excellence. Max A dler, as we
have seen, as well as B auer, R enner, Deutsch, D ann eb erg , a n d the whole
team o f SDAP leaders, subscribed to th a t view with varying d egrees o f in ten
sity. It te n d e d to m ake th e p a rty s cultural o rie n ta tio n backward-looking.
B achs ju b ila tio n a b o u t having m ade a new p ro d u c tio n o f Faust available to
working-class audiences, fo r instance, was em barrassingly so.34 H e justified
his enthusiasm by claiming th at socialism always selects th at art which points
to th e fu tu re , even if it com es from the distant past d u rin g the time o f its
appreciation.
T h e SD A Ps heavy tilt tow ard elite culture, despite disclaimers a b o ut
resisting bo u rg eois values, did n o t go unchallenged. T h e p a rty s cultural
efforts were attacked, with a veiled re fe re n c e to Bach a n d the work o f the
Kunststelle, as providing a ph o to g ra p h ic replication o f b ou rg eo is culture
a n d o ften o f th e past g e n e ra tio n .35 T h e principal task in developing a p r o
letarian c u ltu re, th e party was rem ind ed , was to liberate it from elite cu ltu re
so as to m ake th e celeb ratio n o f M arch 1848 m o re im p o rta n t than the r e a d
ing o f G o e th e s poetry, a n d the Lied d e r A rb e it m o re im p o rta n t than a
M ozart sonata. In what becam e a c o n sta n t critical refrain, R ichard W agner
b e m o a n e d th e absence o f a cultural th eo ry a n d policy com p arable to the
p a rty s political o n e .36 In w orker festivals, in the overevaluation o f b o u r
geois the a te r, in w o rk er so ng societies, a n d in w orker sports, he charged,
class o rie n ta tio n h a d b e e n neglected in favor o f aesthetics.
I f c onsiderable vagueness p ersisted in the SD A Ps theoretical o rie n ta
tio n r e g a rd in g p ro le ta ria n c u ltu re especially th e relationship to the d o m
inan t bo u rg eois c u ltu re, a n d the c o n n e c tio n o f th e p a rty s cultural effort to
th e o n g o in g class struggle it did n o t m ean th at the party was u n certain
a b o u t envelo pin g the w orkers in a total c u ltu re o f its own c reation. Ind eed ,
with th e o nset o f a m o re o m ino u s a n d c o n fro ntatio nal politics a fter 1930
(seen in th e aggressive actions n o t only o f the dom estic H eim w ehr b u t also
o f local Nazis in th e a re n a o f street politics), the socialists becam e m o re a d a
m an t a b o u t im m u rin g the w orkers in a closed w orld from the cradle to the
grave. In 1932 th e SDAP executive d ecreed , fo r instance, th at party rank
a n d file were n o t to assum e any fu n ctio n in bourgeois sports organizations;
fu rth e rm o re , party functio naries (including cadres) w ere forb idd en to
b ecom e m em b e rs.37 P erh aps it was the lack o f clarity a b o u t its cultural p r o
g ram a n d especially a b o u t its n a tu ra l limits, d efin ed by existing traditions
a n d social s tru c tu re s, c o m b in ed with th e sen io r lead ers reluctance to
accept th e possibility o f d e fe n d in g the party by fo rc e ,,Kwhich p ro d u c e d the

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fren zied belief th a t a g r e a te r cultural effort could som ehow safeguard the
re p u blic a n d the party as well. The p a rty s slogan against the idea o f force,
the force o f ideas tu r n e d o u t to be a costly illusion.39

M agical P o w e rs o f th e W ord
In the SD A Ps a tte m p t to raise the w orkers to a h ig h er cultural level, a strat
egy in th e c reatio n o f a p role ta ria n c o u n te rc u ltu re , th e w ord and p articu
larly the p rin te d w ord played a central role. F o r the p a rty s ch ief educational
re fo rm e r, O tto Glckel, th e book is th e strongest w eapon in the class stru g
gle. . . . It raises th e q u estio n o f why . . . a n d the why is th e means to intel
lectual dev elo pm ent a n d knowledge. . . . O n c e people have the cou rag e to
gain knowledge, they m ust becom e socialists. 40 Such in n o cent idealism
echoes the special im p o rta n c e a ccord ed to the p rin te d w ord by G erm an lib
eralism. A n o th e r stro n g influence o n the socialists overevaluation o f the
p o w e r o f the book, it has be e n suggested, was th e b o o k s high valuation in
Jew ish trad itio n, given the p re d o m in a n c e o f Jew s am o n g original A ustromarxists a n d th eir p ra c titio n e r epigones in the repu b lic.41 We shall look
m o re closely at th e socialists intoxication with th e w ord a n d th eir ex pecta
tions a b o u t its magical pow ers o f tran sfo rm atio n in the c o ntext o f the party
press a n d publications, lectures a n d party ed ucation , a n d w orker libraries.
By 1930 th e SDAP, tra d e unions, a n d cooperative societies published
127 new spapers a n d jo u rn a ls with a total p rin t ru n o f 3 ,1 6 1,0 0 0 copies.
This included 7 dailies, 68 specialized periodicals (addressed to tenants,
consum ers, teeto talers, cadres, m oth ers, w om en, a n d those in terested in
culture, to m en tio n b u t a few), a n d 52 trad e u n io n weeklies.42 As Langewiesche has p o in te d o u t, this avalanche o f socialist a n d associated publica
tions b e to k e n e d n o t r e a d e r interest b u t a lack o f co o rd in a tio n .43 A critic o f
this publication m ania hypothesized how many books o f 250 pages each
w ould be available to every m e m b e r o f a socialist organization based o n the
p rin t ru n o f 3.16 million ju s t cited, a n d c o n c lu d e d th at everyone would
receive forty books a year. T o illustrate how w orkers could n o t possibly deal
with this flood o f publications, h e c o n ju re d u p a typical periodical diet a
V iennese party cad re m ight be exp o sed to. Besides a subscription to Die
Arbeiter-Zeitung, h e w ould get two tra d e un io n publications, Der Vertrauens
mann, a n d the V iennese p arty organ, Der Sozialdemokrat, as well as o th e r
publications o f th e m unicipal party organization. H e m ight also receive
autom atically publications such as the te n a n ts association organ, the
S c h u tz b u n d a n d crem a tio n society new sletters, as well as those o f any o f the
forty cultural o rganizations he belo n ged to. If he was m arried, his wife
received an equal pack o f m aterial.44
T h e p o in t is n o t to la m p o o n th e SD A Ps publishing efforts b u t to express
som e d o u b t a b o u t the relationship o f the huge publication figures given a n d
the actual n u m b e r o f w o rk er readers. A closer look at who read what leads

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o n e to d o u b t the statistical inform ation on this as well as o th e r subjects


o ffered in party yearbooks a n d o th e r official periodic reviews a b o u t gains
o n the cu ltu ral fro n t. N um erical grow th o f p arty organizations o f all sizes
a n d kinds seems to have been a foreg o ne conclusion used to d e m o n stra te
th e increasing p o pu larity a n d stren g th o f the party. T he circulation an d
re a d e rsh ip in V ienna o f Die Arbeiter-Zeitung, th e p arty s principal daily, is
extrem ely revealing. If o n e assumes th at th e daily circulation was c onsum ed
by SDAP m em b ers alone, th e n in 1906 every second m e m b e r b o u g h t the
p a p e r, in 1926 every fifth, a n d in 1931 every eighth.45 A study o f Viennese
n e w sp a p e r re a d e rs c o n d u c te d in 1933 c o n clu d ed that only on e -th ird o f Die
Arbeiter-Zeitung re a d e rs w ere w orkers.46 T h e n u m b e r o f V iennese party
m em bers p u rc h a sin g th e main theoretical jo u rn a l, Der K am pf in the late
1920s a n d early 1930s was roughly o n e in eighty.47
In 1927 th e SDAP c re a te d Das kleine Blatt, w ritten in a livelier a n d m ore
p o p u la r style, with m o re h u m a n in te re st c o n te n t a n d a small tabloid fo r
m at, in th e h o p e o f w eaning w orkers away from the reactionary lllustrierte
Kronen-Zeitung a n d Die kleine Volkszeitung. By 1931 it had attained a circu
lation o f 173,000, which rose to 2 00 ,0 0 0 by 1934.48 At th e same time two
illustrated weeklies, Der Kuckuck an d Bunte Woche, were a d d e d to the p a rty s
ro ste r o f publications. All th re e com b in ed the creative use o f p h o to g ra p h s
with fea tu re s th a t w ere b o th e n te rta in in g a n d educational. T hese conces
sions to p o p u la r taste in clud ed a heavy dose o f revelations a b o u t th e dem i
m o n d e in a seductive to n e, while p o in tin g o u t th at p ro stitu tio n was a social
pro blem . In th e Kuckuck particularly, travelogues a b o u t strange a n d exotic
places w ere amply illustrated with b a re-bo so m ed women.
T h e m ost successful o f the new er publications was Die Unzufriedene,
sta rte d in 1926 to a ttra c t w om en to the party. Set in an attractive form at, it
o ffered a m ix tu re o f political subjects fro m a socialist perspective; tips o n
health, beauty, clothing, a n d cooking; a colum n to let w om en speak from
th e h e a r t ; serialized novels; a n d a large n u m b e r o f advertisem ents offering
everything fro m contracep tiv e devices to the newest ho u sekeepin g imple
m ents a n d m o d e rn fu rn itu re . By 1931 its circulation was 1 54,600.49 Most
o f the p a rty s m a jo r publications fe a tu re d serialized fiction as a m eans o f
b u ild ing a loyal read ership . A m o ng th e works published, social novels p re
d o m in ated , th o u g h a significant n u m b e r o f rom antic potboilers, o f the type
th e SD A Ps cultural establishm ent co n sid ered trash a n d kitsch, were
includ ed.50
Several publications ad dressed to the already c o m m itted party o r trad e
u n io n m em b ers raise fu r th e r questions a b o u t actual readership. Die Frau
(Die Arbeiterinnen-Zeitung u ntil 1923), originally a weekly b u t d e m o te d to a
m onthly fo r lack o f funds, claim ed a circulation o f 2 1 8,66 0 by 1931. But in
a large-scale survey o f mainly o rganized fem ale industrial w orkers, only 2.4
p e rc e n t indicated th at they re a d this m onthly.51 Only 3 p e rc e n t o f th e same
sam ple read th e tra d e u n io n pap ers, yet the total circulation claim ed for
these was 8 6 0 ,0 00 . The discrepancy betw een the huge editions o f many
party an d trad e union periodicals an d ap p a re n t readers is explained by the

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89

fact th at these w ere d istrib u te d free o f charge as a m a tte r o f course to m em


bers o f various organizations. It thus becom es clear that the readership, p a r
ticularly o f th e big-run publications, was mainly fictitious. T h a t the party was
investing considerable sums w ithout reach in g its in te n d e d audience m ust
have b e e n recognized at the time. T h e creatio n o f Das kleine lilatt an d the
illustrated weeklies, a n d a ttem p ts to give o th e r publications a m ore p o p u la r
ton e, attest to that. H ow large the w orker re a d e rsh ip o f p articular publi
cations was is n o t easy to d eterm in e. Even w here a clearly ta rg e te d audience
existed, the relatio n sh ip betw een circulation a n d re a d e rs is confusing. Der
Vertrauensmann, a d d re sse d to the party cadres, is a case in point. In 1931 it
h a d an editio n o f 12,600.52 But th e cadres in V ienna alone n u m b e re d
2 0 ,6 3 6 .53
C o n te m p o ra ry surveys o f w orker read in g habits offer som e insight into
th e p re fe re n c es a n d frequ en cies o f read ership , as well as into th e p articu lar
featu res in the periodical lite ra tu re p re fe rre d o r sh u n n e d by workers. O f
the large sam ple o f fem ale factory w orkers surveyed, 48.2% re a d Das kleine
Blatt a n d 28.8% re a d Die Arbeiter-Zeitung am o n g th e dailies; 21.4% re a d the
weekly Die Unzufriedene, a n d 9.3% re a d p apers o f o th e r political p e rsu a
sions.54 A n o th e r survey o f leatherw o rk er a p p ren tices aged fo u rte e n to n ine
teen revealed that 80 p e rc e n t re a d a daily paper. T h eir specific choices were
as follows: Das kleine Blatt, 41%; Die Arbeiter-Zeitung, 30.7%; the reactionary
Kronen-Zeitung a n d Volks-Zeitung, 27.5%; a n d p ap ers o f o th e r (non-working-class) o rie n ta tio n , 26.2% .55 A lthough the editors o f Bildungsarbeit
a p p la u d e d this effort to gain an objective u n d e rsta n d in g o f w orker youth
in shap in g th e fu tu re d irectio n o f c ultural work, n o atte m p t was m ade to
e x p a n d such surveys o r to d o m o re than give lip service to th eir im portance.
T h e 1933 study o f V iennese new spaper read ers fo u n d that th e m ajority
o f w orkers re a d th e f o u r p o p u la r tabloids, o f which only one (Das kleine
Blatt) was pub lished by th e SDAP, a n d th e o th e rs by its political o p p o n e n ts.56
L ead articles w ere re a d regularly by only 35.5 p e rc e n t because th e language
was to o difficult a n d th e text too ab stract.57 T h e w orkers p re fe rre d parlia
m en tary rep o rts, because they w ere colorful a n d dram atic; they showed lit
tle in te re st in e conom ic subjects. F e a tu re articles, stories, serialized fiction,
a n d travel a ccounts were m ost p op u lar; theater, film, a n d a rt criticism were
n e a r the b o tto m o f w orker p referen ces.
T h e SDAP publishing ho use was m od est in its editions o f accounts o f
im p o rta n t party events a n d writings o f the leaders. Protocols o f the party
congresses, which p re se n te d the ann u al p ro gram , h a d the following p rin t
ru n s (sales are no t known): 1920 600; 1921 500; 1 9 2 5 - 3 0 1,000;
1931 2 ,0 0 0 .5H Im p o rta n t political texts also h a d small printings: Julius
B ra u n th a ls Kommunisten und Sozialdemokraten (1919) 5,000; O tto
B a u e rs Bolschewismus oder Sozialdemokratie? (1920) 10,000, (1921)
5,000; a n d Austerlitz Spricht (1931) 2 ,0 0 0 .59 T h e p a rty s publication o f
Wiener Dreigroschenbucher p re se n tin g go o d lite ra tu re in an inexpensive e di
tion, a n d its atte m p ts to provide such belles lettres th ro u g h book clubs, also
re a c h e d o u t to only a very small au dience.'"

Ii rem ains to gain some perspective 011 the fo rego ing num erical 110m an's-land. T he SDAP sought to bring the working class into its fold with
th e sh e e r n u m b e rs o f its varied publications to overwhelm w orkers with a
flood o f p rin te d m aterial easily available. Only a fter 1927 did the party c o n
sider o th e r m eans based o n the interests o f their audience. But even with
the in tro d u c tio n o f m o re p o p u la r organs such as Das kleine Blatt, its publi
cations with huge editions, such as Die Frau, rem ained virtually unchanged.
T he party leaders evidently assum ed that captive audiences were available,
since as m em bers they received a good n u m b e r o f publications free o f
charge. Die Frau was d istrib u te d to all female party m em bers, b u t L e ic h te rs
study reveals th a t it was hardly read. T h e same may be said a b o u t trad e
u n io n pap ers, th e fo rm a t a n d painful dullness o f which m ust have p u t oft
all b u t the m ost m otivated activists an d functionaries.11Even am o n g the elite
s tu d en ts o f the A rb eiterh och schu le (workers college), surely am o n g the
m ost com m itted socialists, only 57 p ercen t read the party new spapers and
periodicals h e a p e d u p o n th e m .12 T he p ro ffe re d pam p h let lite ra tu re m et the
same kind o f re a d e r resistance. A plaintive voice fro m the rank a n d file
revealed that O tto B a u e rs im p o rta n t work Der K am pf um die Macht was
hardly re a d by anyone at his w orkplace, n o t even the cadres. Even if bought,
it was claimed, it was stuck into th e toolbox u n re a d .63
T h e SD A Ps reliance o n the quantity o f its publications failed to make
th em the tra n sm itte rs o f the aspired w orker cu ltu re fo r several reasons.
F o rem o st was th e paternalistic assum ption th at the re a d e rs interest, c u r
re n t habits, a n d m entality n e e d n o t be taken into consideration. Implicitly,
th e party h a d its own ideas a b o u t how to b e tte r in fo rm the w orkers, raise
th e ir cu ltu ral level, a n d p ro m o te th eir consciousness. Failure to u n d e rsta n d
th e w ork er r e a d e r was reflected in the difficult style a n d linguistic usage, as
well as in the fo rm at, o f m ost publications. T o the average V iennese worker,
w ho spoke a b ro a d dialect a n d was accustom ed to the simple form ulations
o f the boulevard press, the p a rty s so b er publications may have suggested
h a r d w ork (like school) r a th e r th a n re c re a tio n .64 Since th e masses o f workers
could n o t cop e with th e flood o f party publications, vast n um bers o f those
p ublications m ust have re m a in e d unread .
W ho th e n w ere the loyal re a d e rs p re p a re d to deal with a good p a rt o f
th e p rin te d m a tte r m ad e available to th e m each week? It was probably a cen
tral co re o f party cadres, paid functionaries, officials o f the trad e unions and
c o o perativ e societies, socialist civil servants, a n d o th e rs whose secure
e m p lo y m en t indirectly stem m ed from the socialist municipality. All in all
this g ro u p pro b ab ly at best c o m p rised a b o u t 30,000 to 3 5 ,0 00 people. This
is n o t to a rg u e th a t a core o f dedicated party m em bers w ere the only readers
o f SDAP publications (even cadres, as we have seen, at least som etim es sim
u la te d th e re a d in g o f the p a rty s principal writings). No d o u b t many workers
c o n su m e d som e o f the available party literature, but they seem to have been
highly selective a n d far fro m con stant in th eir choices. As im p o rta n t in stru
m ents o f th e SD A Ps cultural p ro g ram , its press an d publications a p p e a r not
to have m ad e m u ch headw ay in re ach in g the party ran k a n d file. T h e core

'II
g ro u p e n g ag ed m ost successfully re p re se n te d only som e 7 - 1 0 p ercen t o f
party m em bership. It h a d b een significantly larger in th e p rew ar party. The
ra p id grow th o f the SDAP a fte r 1923 cre a te d a form al m em b ersh ip that in
reality still had to be won over to the socialist cultural perspective o f SDAP
leaders.
N ext to the p rin te d word, the spoken w ord in the form o f lectures was
a well-established fo rm o f w o rk er e d u catio n a n d cultural enligh tenm en t
da tin g from the p re w a r period. It was a m ajo r accom plishm ent o f the Bildu n g szen trale to e x p a n d these into a vast netw ork o f speakers available to
w orker g ro u p s at th e local level. In Vienna, single-lecture evenings grew
fro m 3,000 in 1924 to 6 ,5 00 in 1932. T hese w ere c o n d u c te d at n eig h b o r
h o o d party bran ch es, at Volksheime (peoples clubhouses) in O ttakring, Leop old stadt, L andstrasse, and Brigittenau, a n d in th e m eeting room s o f the
new m unicipal housing. Topics o ffered included c o n te m p o ra ry politics, the
socialist m ovem ent, history, religion, w om ens subjects, ed u catio n, culture,
a n d sexuality, to m en tio n b u t a few. A ttem pts to organize series o f lectures
o n single subjects failed to a ttra c t a sufficient audience.
D espite th e n um erical success o f these lectures, which at least allowed
the B ildungszentrale to put w hat the party co nsidered im p o rtan t subjects
b e fo re w orker audiences, they su ffered from som e fu n d am en tal sh o rtc o m
ings which re d u c e d th e ir value as vehicles o f a socialist party culture. Fre
quently lectu rers faced the in su rm o u n tab le task o f having to p re se n t com
plicated subjects w itho u t sufficient tim e to o ffer the necessary detail. This
m ea n t that w hatever tim e h ad b een set aside fo r this cultural event was used
u p by th e speaker, so th at th e m uch-desired discussion (one o f the central
aims o f such projects) could n o t take place. As o n e sh a rp critic o f the lectu re
p ro g ra m com plained, th e fo rm at led to a superficial ex perience a b o u t
which o n e m ight e x pect r e p o rts such as: T he speaker h a d a pow erful voice,
th e re fo re , he was well liked. 6b A fa r m o re fu n d am en tal critique o f the lec
tu re p ro g ra m an d o th e r aspects o f the SD A Ps cultural efforts cam e from
Max A dler very late in th e day. A vast g u lf h a d o p e n e d betw een th e masses
o f socialist w orkers a n d th e party a n d tra d e u n io n bureaucracy, h e charged,
as was a p p a re n t in cultural endeavors w here listeners gave th eir respectful
a tte n tio n bu t re m a in e d u n e n g a g e d .67
W ith ou t m inim izing the im p o rta n c e o f the SD A Ps lectu re p ro g ra m in
h e lp in g to give w ork er particip an ts a sense o f belo ng ing to the socialist
cam p, o n e m ust express som e d o u b t a b o u t the deg re e to which th e c o n te n t
o f p ro g ram s could be called educational o r cultural in the sense the party
inte n d e d . By fa r th e m ost p o p u la r subject o n th e Viennese circuit were
readings o f a light a n d e n te rta in in g natu re . T hey co m p rised a b ou t 25 p e r
c e n t o f all lectu re topics a n d w ere clearly p o p u la r e n te rta in m e n t r a th e r than
the so b er fare co n sid ered to be culturally uplifting by the SD A Ps culture
e stablishm ent.68 O n e o th e r aspect o f this activity rem ains puzzling. G ra n te d
that 6 ,50 0 single lectures in 1932 was an impressive n u m b e r, n o on e has
b e e n able to ascertain how large the audience o f w orker listeners actually
was. I f one assum es an average g ro u p size o f twenty-five (averaging small

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local audiences with larger ones), the total yearly n u m b e r w ould be abo u t
160,000. Leaving aside the likelihood th at a large n u m b e r o f these were
repeaters atte n d in g several events, it is im perative to look at a tte n d a n c e fig
ures for p o p u la r leisure-tim e activities. In the same targ et year o f 1932 soc
cer matches on a weekly basis drew fro m 150,000 to 20 0 ,0 00 spectators, an d
cinemas 500,000 weekly viewers (see c h a p te r 5). No d o u b t th e lecture p ro
gram played an im p o rta n t p a rt in in teg ratin g a limited n u m b e r o f workers
into an aspect o f party life, b u t th e masses o f workers w ere n o t reach ed by
it, n o r could th e high socialist goals o f th e SDAPs cultural p ro g ra m be really
advanced by it.
The SDAPs co m m itm en t to th e p ow er o f the w ord was also evident in
the various special schools c re a te d to p re p a re its leadership fo r th e task o f
implem enting th e p a rty s p ro g ram s.69 T hese schools w ere given th e task o f
transm itting the essentials o f A ustrom arxist thought, o f s tre n g th e n in g the
loyalty o f lower-level leaders to the h ig h e r echelons, a n d o f inculcating a
revolutionary lan to be tran sm itte d th ro u g h the cultural an d o th e r p ro
grams o f the party. T hey re p re se n te d a specialized a n d very limited aspect
o f the B ildungszentrales cu ltu ral activities an d w ere only peripherally
related to its a ttem p ts to reach the masses o f work'-rs. T h e th re e types o f
schools, in ascending o rd e r, w ere A rbeiterschulen fo r party cadres, Parteischulen for functionaries, a n d an A rbeiterhochschule fo r fu tu re high-level
leaders. T he c u rriculu m in all o f th e m stressed socialist theory, party o rg a
nization, and c u rre n t politics, with a progressive increase in theory a nd dif
ficulty o f subjects. T h e cad re schools o ffered courses ru n n in g a b ou t ten eve
nings; the functionaries received evening instruction fo r a th ree-m o n th
period; an d the w ork ers college o ffered six m onth s o f instru ctio n in a res
ident cam pus setting.
T he n u m b ers involved at all th re e levels were small, accou n tin g for
about 12 p e rc e n t o f b o th cadres a n d functionaries fo r th e first two, an d a
total o f 114 p ersons in the fo u r years th e A rb eiterh o chsch ule was in o p e r
ation. T h e social d istrib ution in th e party schools says m u ch a b o u t the com
position o f the party leadership in general. W orkers w ere greatly u n d e r r e p
resented a m o n g th e stu den ts, while employees a n d civil servants were
greatly o v e rre p re se n te d .70 T hese varied attem pts to p re p a re the party lead
ership ideologically fo r its varied tasks w ere certainly co m m endable, b u t one
notices a decided absence in the cu rric u lu m o f any in stru ction a b o u t the
workers themselves, th e ir traditions, life-styles, com m unities, a n d general
sense o f milieu which would have b e e n crucial in translating the SD A Ps
heavy investm ent in c u ltu re into ways that might have fo u n d p o p u la r
response a n d acceptance.
F o r the socialist cultural leaders, n e ith e r periodicals n o r lectures
em bodied the magical pow ers o f th e w o rd as well as books. T he develop
m ent o f a large netw ork o f w orker libraries becam e th e central aim an d
crow ning achievem ent o f (he Bildungszentrale. Today, when we have
be com e som ew hat skeptical about the transfo rm in g pow er o f books, the
socialists long list o f exp ectatio ns seems refreshingly idealistic but also

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naive.71 It was believed that th ro u g h books the w orker could be w eaned away
from ch eap am u sem en ts such as Gasthuser, th a t his basic ignorance a bo u t
th e w orld could be re d u c e d , that he could gradually be guided along an
increm en tal pa th o f literary quality to a pp reciate the serious works o f social
science a n d Marxism, a n d that th ro u g h them h e would be m ade ready to
tra n sfo rm th e chaos o f capitalism into a rational socialist o rd e r. The p re
scribed pa th led from know ledge a ttained th ro u g h h a rd work an d diligence
to th e class struggle at a h ig h er level. It d e m a n d e d m u ch too m uch, as we
shall see from the w o rker who was not the ideal type imagined by the
S D A Ps experts.
T h e w orker libraries, like m any o th e r socialist cultural institutions, were
already well d eveloped b e fo re the war. In 1910 various dispersed libraries
were centralized o n a districtw ide basis. Two years later Joseph L uitpold
S tern took over the netw ork u n d e r the aegis o f the B ildungszentrale. In
1914 he published a h a n d b o o k fo r librarians which becam e the bible fo r the
o rganization o f w ork er libraries a n d the tasks o f librarians.72 In it h e p ro
po sed a m odel s tru c tu re fo r all cen ters a n d branches, an d fo r centralized
purchasing; a u n ifo rm system o f cataloguing; a n d a m an dato ry g atherin g o f
statistics by each u n it o n m em bership, titles received, an d books published.
S te r n s m ain c o n c e rn in p ro m o tin g the w orker libraries was to com bat the
trash a n d kitsch to which he believed the w orkers, m o re than others, were
e x p o se d .73
This q u est fo r the e n n o b le m e n t o f cultural p ro d u c ts to be consum ed by
th e w orkers becam e a m ain co m p o n e n t o f the SD A Ps cultural p ro g ra m .74
I f books w ere to play a c en tral role in re o rie n tin g the workers, Stern
insisted, libraries w ould have to u n d e rg o the same rationalization as that
b eing in tro d u c e d in in du stry .75 T he p u rp o se o f such centralization, aside
fro m savings to be gained, was con tro l by the B ildungszentrale over the
books m ade available as well as over the read ers themselves. T he workerlib ra ria n , he m ain tained, m ust act as the m oral confessor o f his w orker
c o m ra d e s. 76 His c en tral task, accordingly, was to guide readers an d to
e n c o u ra g e th em to advance fro m simple belles lettres to m ore difficult and
valuable social a n d analytical texts o f socialism a n d science. Above all,
d etailed reco rd s w ere to be kept, a n d bran ch es w ere to be judged on the
basis o f th e m o re vigilance, th e m o re success. 77 S te rn s m oralizing atti
tu d e in his cam paign against trash a n d kitsch a n d o n be h a lf o f cultural e n n o
b lem ent set the to n e fo r the SDA Ps ideological a p p ro a c h to the function
o f reading. In place o f an evaluation o f the needs o f re a d e rs and their
choices carried o u t by a Marxist analysis (which one m ight have expected,
given th e eq u a tio n o f M arxism with social science by the fo u n d in g A ustromarxists), we find sentim ental preaching.
D espite the prevalence o f such n arro w views am o n g the cultural d irec
to rate, the w orker libraries a p p e a re d to flourish.78 By 1927 m o re th a n a mil
lion books w ere loaned o u t annually. T h e com b in ation o f attractively
d esigned a n d fu rn ish e d b ran ch es (many o f th em located in the new m unic
ipal housing), 53 well-stocked central libraries, a n d 1,064 dedicated volun

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te e r librarians79 b ro u g h t book bo rro w in g to 2,3 9 5,54 7 in 1931. T he actual


n u m b e r o f w orker library m em bers was far m o re m odest, fo r only by the
paym ent o f small fees w ere these a n d o th e r libraries accessible to the public.
In V ienna this m em bersh ip a m o u n te d to 40,0 00 in 1931, o r a b o u t 10 p e r
cent o f SDAP m em bership. This was significantly h ig h er th a n the library
m em b ersh ip o f the V iennese p e r se, b u t only a fter 1930. B efore th e n it was
n o t m u ch different fro m the re c o rd o f w orker central libraries p rio r to
1914.80 As a corrective fo r these bald statistics, o n e m ust assum e th at many
w ork er library m em berships served families r a th e r th a n individuals, and
that th e circle o f re a d e rs was substantially g re a te r th a n subscribers.
B ut even if on e makes such an ad justm en t, the n u m b e r o f w orkers who
actually drew o n th e w o rker libraries was m arkedly smaller. A breakdow n by
p e rc e n ta g e o f th e social com position o f readers fo r 1929 establishes that
55.8 w ere w orkers, 23.3 w ere em ployees, 4.1 were in business, 3.4 were
in d e p e n d e n t professionals, a n d 13.4 w ere housewives.81 This distribu tio n
very closely p aralleled th e social com position o f the SDAP, which electorally
h a d b e g u n to resem ble a p e o p le s party e x te n d in g b eyond its working-class
base.82 B ut it w ould be a mistake simply to red u c e th e 4 0 ,0 00 worker-library
m em b ers o f 1931 by som e 80 p e rc e n t w ho m ight be c o n sid ered w orkers, to
arrive at a figure o f 32,00 0 a n d assum e th at to be the total o f workers
inscribed as library m em bers in V ienna.83 A fact which th e extensive public
ity o f the SDAP fo r its own libraries qu ite naturally n ev er m e n tio n e d was
th a t an alternative library system existed o f which w orkers c o nstituted 40
W orker library, Sandleitenhof ( Wohnhausanlage Sandleitenhof Vienna, 1929)

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p e rc e n t o f th e b o rro w e rs.84 In 1897 middle-class liberals fo u n d e d the Verein Z entralbibliothek, closely associated with th e University o f Vienna, to
p ro vid e scientific enlig h te n m e n t free o f all religious a n d political influ
e nces.85 By 1910 it h a d tw enty-four b ran ch es in V ienna a n d Low er A ustria
which lo an ed o u t 3.5 million volumes. In 1918 th a t n u m b e r ex p lo d ed to 10
million. O w ing to the decline o f liberalism a fter the war a n d the lower fees
ch a rg e d by the w o rker libraries, the books b o rro w e d declined to 3 million
in 1936.
W hat books w ere b o rro w e d fro m the w orker libraries? Did the librarians
succeed in carefully g uiding w orkers fro m light read in g to the sciences
a n d social sciences which w ere co n sid ered th e tru e cultural enrichm ents?
Belles lettres (novels, sh o rt stories, poetry, dram a) consistently acco u nted
f o r 8 3 - 8 7 .3 p e rc e n t o f th e books borrow ed. W orks o n science, which
in clu d ed largely escapist travel literatu re, c o n stitu ted 5 - 9 p ercen t, and
social science, th e m ost im p o rta n t category fro m the p o int o f view o f the
SDAP, a m o u n te d to 5 .8 - 8 .4 p e rc e n t.86 An in ternal critic charg ed that the
statistics a b o u t social science works w ere heavily inflated, th a t librarians
a d m itted th a t such works, even w hen b orro w ed, w ere freq uently r e tu rn e d
u n re a d . H e u rg e d th at the w o rk er libraries a b a n d o n th e fetishistic a ttach
m e n t to this category a n d pay m o re a tte n tio n to the realities a n d fantasies
in w o rkers lives.87
T h e re a d e rs o f th e w o rk e r libraries may have failed to live u p to the high
intellectual stan d ard s e x p e c te d o f them by S te rn an d o thers, b u t they did
n o t fail them selves in p roviding fo r th e ir own e n te rta in m e n t, relaxation,
a n d en lig h ten m en t. A listing o f the m ost p o p u la r au th o rs in V iennese
w ork er libraries fo r 1933 includ ed the G erm an-language w riters Stefan
Zweig, Ja k o b W asserm ann, Erich M aria R em arqu e, a n d Klara Viebig; the
internationally fam ous Ja c k L o n d o n , U p to n Sinclair, Emile Zola, T h e o d o re
D reiser, a n d B. T raven; as well as th e p o p u la r b u t (for the Bildungszentrale)
un desirab le w riters L udw ig G a n g h o fe r a n d H u g o B e tta u e r.88 T he choice
revealed a very stro n g in terest in social novels a n d a cosm opolitan taste,
even th o u g h the a d v e n tu re fiction o f Ja m e s F enim o re C oo p er, A lexander
D um as, a n d Ju les V e rn e c o n tin u e d to be p op u lar. T he SD A Ps culture
ex p e rts should have b e e n delig h ted with th eir re a d e rs choices. But they
seem ed fixated o n c o n v ertin g w orker read ers in to collective-m inded an d
fu tu re -d ire c te d cham p io n s read ied by th eir m astery o f socialist classics to
take u p the class struggle at a h ig h er level. F ro m th eir perspective, the ability
to choose c o uld n o t be left to the workers.
T h e p a rty s struggle against trash a n d kitsch was all-consum ing an d
reach ed ridiculous b u t also d a n g e ro u s heights. A n exam ple o f this m ania is
the attack on Karl May, th e a u th o r o f n u m e ro u s A m erican Wild W est adven
tu res fe a tu rin g th e white h u n te r O ld S c h a tte rh a n d a n d th e noble In d ian
chieftain W inn eto u , a n d a series a b o u t A rabia as well. As early as 1910 Stern
attacked these novels as unrealistic and rom antic, claiming that they led
y outh into d a n g e ro u s a d v e n tu re s.89 T h e attack was co n tin u e d a fter the war,
an d Mays books w ere rem oved from the w orker libraries and, as pari ol

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G lockels u p g ra d in g o f books, from the Viennese public-school libraries as


well. Even those w ho claim ed some u n d e rsta n d in g o f the w orkers n eed for
relaxation a n d enjoym ent, a n d fo r a change fro m a grim everyday reality,
insisted th at w orker libraries should n o t stock kitsch b u t h elp th e workers
to a p preciate g o o d books.90 A lone voice w ent full tilt against the party
a n d c h arg ed th at it alienated the cultural establishm ent fro m th e individual
needs a n d ex p erien ce o f the w orkers a n d tu r n e d th em into m ere
c o nsu m ers.91
At th e SDAP congress in 1932 S te rn claim ed th at the w orker libraries
had su cceeded in b ringing a b o u t the intellectual tran sfo rm atio n o f a
m etropolis a n d h a d set a sta n d a rd fo r the Socialist In te rn a tio n a l in the use
o f cultural m eth o d s in the class struggle.92 Such bom bast was all to o com
m o n am on g the p a rty s cultural d irectors. It was a self-deception that
b ro u g h t the magical pow ers o f the w o rd n o closer to th e workers it was
in te n d e d to tran sfo rm .

E n r ich m en ts o f Taste: M usic, T heater, and th e F in e Arts


T h e task o f brin g in g artistic c u ltu re to the w orkers was e n tru ste d to the
Sozialdem okratische Kunststelle. U n d e r th e virtually dictatorial directio n o f
David J o s e p h Bach, who also was artistic advisor to th e Viennese m unicipal
council, artistic e d ito r o f Die Arbeiter-Zeitung, a n d e d ito r o f Kunst und Volk,
it acted as a m em b ership o rganization providing re d u ced -price tickets to
th e a te r a n d music pe rfo rm a n c e s a n d initiated a n d supervised the musical,
film, radio, artistic, a n d festival u n dertak in g s o f the SDAP. Between 1919
a n d 1923 it was subsidized by the m unicipality with 6 - 1 0 p e rc e n t o f the
local luxury taxes.93 Its publication Kunst und Volk, b eg u n in 1926, r e p o rte d
o n th e K unststelles activities a n d fro m tim e to time inclu ded critical com
m entaries o n th e d irection o f various aspects o f the SD A Ps cultural
p rog ram .
T h e K unststelles m ost d e m o n strab le success was in tran sm ittin g inex
pensive tickets to V iennese th eater, co ncert, o p e ra , an d o p e re tta p e rfo r
m ances. By 1922 it h a d 4 0 ,0 0 0 subscribers, which declined to a stable
20 ,0 00 by 1926.94 In re sp o n d in g to a sh arp criticism (see later discussion)
th at the K unststelle was n o th in g m o re th a n a ticket b u re a u , Bach proudly
cited th e m o re th a n 2 million tickets d istrib u ted by his o rganization in five
a n d a h a lf years, including 2 0 0 ,0 0 0 fo r concerts, 3 77 ,0 0 0 fo r o p e ra an d
o p e re tta , a n d 1.4 million fo r th e a te r.95 As in o th e r aspects o f the SD A Ps
cultural efforts, n u m b e rs w ere used to o b scu re the precise reality and to
silence critics. A closer look at the 193,639 tickets b ro k e re d in 1929, for
instance, reveals that only 3 p e rc e n t w ere to the state o p e ra a n d 6 percen t
to th e B u rg th e a te r, the two pillars o f Viennese cultural life.91 B achs intention o f providing w orkers with their just share o f the best in art was clearly
reflected in the p re p o n d e ra n c e o f ( ierm an ( lassie and naturalist plays p e r
fo rm ed by the Viennese th eaters on which his ticket p rog ram d ep en d ed .

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Such a heavy ex p o su re to elite cu ltu re was co n so n an t with B achs oftenstated view th at all tru e art is revolutionary a n d acts in a revolutionary
way, a n d that the c o n q u e st o f tru e a rt [by th e workers] is a p a rt o f the
c u ltu ral ideal o f socialism. 97
W hat exactly was m ea n t by tru e a r t rem ain ed an o p e n questio n that
n e ith e r Bach n o r any o th e r socialist cultural d ire c to r answ ered with any p r e
cision. It in clud ed dram as o f a clearly social, socialist, proletarian, an d rev
o lu tio n ary c o n te n t a n d m o d e rn form . Claims have b e e n m ade, th e n and
m o re recently, that Bach succeeded in p ro m o tin g the p e rfo rm a n c e o f m o d
e r n expressionist plays which would otherw ise have been avoided by the th e
a te rs.98 Karl Mark, the fo rm e r party secretary o f the district o f Dobling,
rejects the assertion that th e Kunststelle a tte m p te d to sp o n so r m o re m o d
e rn , socialist-oriented plays.99 H e reco un ts that Bach was p re p a re d to let the
p ro d u c tio n o f B recht a n d W eills Dreigroschenoper close because o f bad
reviews, a n d th a t its co n tin u a tio n a n d success was fo rced by the D obling
p arty section, which h a d b o u g h t o u t h alf the house. It was only the initiative
o f individual districts, h e insisted, which m ade the p ro d u c tio n o f plays with
a d ecid ed socialist c o n te n t by E rnst Toller, F riedrich Wolff, Karl C rede, an d
o th e rs possible. Bach, h e co n clu ded, was simply n o t in terested in bringing
th e a te r to working-class n eig h b o rh o o d s distant from the city center.
W hatev er B achs inclinations, as long as h e p u rc h a se d blocks o f tickets
in existing theaters, he was fo rced to abide by th eir scheduled p ro d u ctio n s
a n d to include a g oo d n u m b e r o f trivial plays fo r the few original ones he
could p ro m o te . It was clear that, w ithout at least on e th e a te r o f its own, the
SD A P s aim o f providing w orkers with plays that fit its n o tio n o f cultural
e n lig h te n m e n t could go n o fu rth e r. In 1928 th e Kunststelle a c q u ired the
C arlth e a te r, which closed a fte r two p ro d u c tio n s because o f financial diffi
culties. T h e long-standing dissatisfaction with B achs m anag em ent bo th
w ithin the Kunststelle a n d outside it was aired in public. T he o p e n in g salvo
h a d be e n fired by Karl K raus w hen he attacked th e diet o f trivial plays an d
o p e re tta s o ffered to th e w orkers as being (in a play on words) an Stelle d e r
K un st. Kraus also d e m a n d e d to know why the Kunststelle was c o n ten t to
b e a ticket b u re a u when, in view o f the large audience it m ade available to
th e th eaters, it should have influenced a n d d e te rm in e d the pro gram s
them selves.100
A m o re fu n d a m e n ta l critique o f the e n tire o rie n ta tio n a n d p ro g ra m o f
the Kunststelle cam e fro m O tto Leichter, one o f the editors o f Die ArbeiterZeitu7ig.10' D espite the fact th at the Kunststelle had m o re possibilities than
any o th e r org an ization save those in Soviet Russia to create p roletarian cul
tural form s, he c h arg ed , in th e ten years o f its existence it had failed to real
ize its potential. This failure could be a ttrib u te d in part to the unwillingness
o f party fun ction aries to engage in cultural work that was o p e n to criticism,
a n d in p a rt to the m unicipalitys inability to provide ad e q u a te financial su p
p o rt, given its heavy investm ent in public housing. But most o f all, he
insisted, cultural d em an d s h a d aim ed to o high, and too m uch had been
ex p ected o f the w orkers in a tutelary m a n n e i. T he charge, thinly veiled, was

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d ire c te d at Bach, w ho h a d consistently d e m a n d e d th at the highest art be


aspired to because it was also th e m ost rev o lu tio n ary .102 C ultural p ro g ra m
ming, L e ich ter co n tin u e d , h a d paid to o m uch a tte n tio n to the taste o f coffee
h o u se aesthetes a n d n o t e n o u g h to th e p ro le ta ria n in his n e ig h b o rh o o d Gasthaus. T h a t p role ta ria n h a d a right to p o p u la r, light, a n d d istracting e n te r
ta in m e n t w ithout being m ad e to feel guilty if he chose less th a n th e highest
quality. It was u p to th e K unststelle to w ean the w orkers from these a n d to
lead th e m to a h ig h e r cultural level.
N o m a tte r how telling, L e ic h te rs critique offered n o suggestions a b o ut
how to solve th e fu n d am en tal p ro blem s that plagued the SD APs cultural
e n terp rise: W hat w ere these higher, m o re pro letarian , m o re socialistd irected , specific cultural form s? H ow sh o uld w orkers b e le d fro m their
traditio n al involvem ent in com m ercial c u ltu re a n d grow ing co n su m p tio n o f
mass cultural offerings to the h ig h e r goals? I f L eichter was simply rhetorical
o n th e subject o f alternatives, he was d isingenuous o n a n o th e r im po rta n t
point. H e seems to blam e th e p arty fo r n o t giving the cu ltu ral p ro g ram s suf
ficient su p p o rt, b u t exo n e ra te s it by citing the m unicipalitys heavy financial
com m itm e n t to housing. But it surely was n o secret that the municipality
also gave substantial subsidies to the m a jo r institutions o f V iennese elite cul
tu r e the state o p e ra a n d B u rg th e a te r, fo r instance. Was it u n th ink able fo r
th e socialist-dom inated m unicipal council to re a p p o rtio n its cultural subsi
dies to include a m o re substantial su p p o rt fo r p ro le ta ria n cultural activities?
O r w ere these pillars o f elite c u ltu re to o m u ch o f a holy cow too
a d m ire d by the SDAP leaders them selves as symbols o f V ien n as cultural
excellence to be ta m p e re d with?
B achs respo n se was to reject all criticism and to insist th a t th e Kunststelles cu ltu ral p ro g ra m was a g reat success.103 H e did this in th e by-nowcustom ary way o f listing th e large n u m b e r o f tickets sold. At th e same time
he reje c te d th e charge that th e Kunststelle was n o th in g m o re th a n a ticket
b u re a u . It h a d a cultu ral-ed ucation al fu n ctio n a n d th e re fo re sought to p r o
vide th e best artistic quality. T h e w orkers, h e suggested, w ere free to seek
m e re e n te rta in m e n t in th e m ajority o f theaters, which o ffered such fare
in large m easure. H e neg lected to say that only th e block buying o f tickets
by th e K unststelle m ade re d u c e d prices possible, a n d that th e w orkers were
fa r f ro m fre e to exercise th eir p referen ces.
It was in th e realm o f music th a t th e K unststelle cam e closest to B achs
aspiration o f providing th e finest a n d th e re fo re m ost revolutionary a r t to
p o ten tial w o rker audiences. T h e vehicle fo r this a tte m p t was th e w orker
sym phony concerts, b e g u n in 1905, which had b ecom e a c e n terp iece o f the
SD A P s cultural p ro g ra m . F ro m 1926 o n th e co n certs were u n d e r the b ato n
o f th e S c h o n b e rg stu d e n t A n to n von W ebern. D uring the 1920s an average
o f eight p ro g ra m s w ere o ffered p e r year a n d generally re p e a te d two o r th ree
times, declining to th re e p ro g ra m s w ithout repetition in the early 1930s.104
T h e musical o rie n ta tio n o f the c o n certs was plagued by an im p o rtant am bi
guity. As in all cu ltu ral end eav ors o f th e SDAP, a new form o f expression
a n d conterit was lo be d eveloped to aid in the tra n sfo rm ation an d class id e n

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tification o f th e workers. This m ea n t developing an alternative to b o th clas


sical a n d m o d e rn m usic som ethin g akin to the Soviet Russian ex p erim en t
o f co m bin in g th e technology o f m achines, factory sirens, cannonades, an d
fog h o rn s with mass ch oru ses a n d in stru m en tal m usic.105 Bach rem ained
w edd ed to th e classical heritag e u p to co n te m p o ra rie s like Sch on b erg an d
von W ebern, clearly th e dom ain o f elite culture. But Bach refused to see this
h eritag e as elite. A rt, h e held, co nfo rm s to laws o f its own, u n re la te d to soci
etal reality; g reat artists retain their value because they rise above their
class.106 T h us fo r Bach, as well as fo r o th e r socialist c u ltu re experts, b o u r
geois cultural form s a n d practices attain ed a revolutionizing value simply
because the w orkers a p p re h e n d e d th e m .107
I f we look at the p ro g ra m s o f the w orker sym phony concerts, it comes
as n o surprise th a t they hew ed to the G erm an classical trad itio n, with Bee
tho v en b ein g w o rship ed as a musical P ro m e th e u s .108 Forays in to c o n te m
p o ra ry fo rm s th e rhythm ic, harm onic, a n d m elodic com bination o f clas
sical music with jazz, o r e x p erim en ts with twelve-tone m usic did n ot
diverge fro m practices in th e d o m in a n t c u ltu re .109 W ho was the a udience o f
these concerts? F o r o n c e we are n o t in u n d a te d with a p r o u d display o f n u m
bers, fo r n o re c o rd seems to have b e e n kept. It does ap p ear, however, that
w orkers w ere only a small minority, c o m p a re d to employees, m anagers, and
in tellectu als.110 Private listening was possible th ro u g h re c o rd e d music, b u t
p h o n o g ra p h s a n d reco rd s w ere beyo n d th e reach o f m ost workers. From
tim e to tim e w ork er sym phony concerts w ere b ro ad cast on th e radio, bu t
they ra n k e d n e a r the b o tto m o f p ro g ra m s p re fe rre d by radio listeners (see
c h a p te r 5).
N ot only w ere w o rker sym phony concerts a m isno m er with respect to
th e a ud ien ce they served, b u t w orkers who d id a tte n d w ere exp ected to c o n
fo rm to th e n o rm s o f bo u rg eois dress a n d c o m p o rtm e n t. A glowing descrip
tio n o f th e first c o n c e rt in 1905 r e p o rts with pleasure th a t the team sters who
a tte n d e d did n o t disgrace themselves o r the party by dressing differently.111
It concludes by observing th a t w orkers have learn ed to behave properly:
they u n d e rs ta n d th a t classical music has to b e a p p re c ia te d in festive
clothing.
Bach a p p a re n tly believed th at th e w orker sym phony concerts h a d m ade
an im p o rta n t b e g in n in g in rectifying the musical deprivation o f the w orkers
a n d w ere providing th em with th eir j u s t share o f th e elite cultural tradition.
But he, as well as the p arty a n d tra d e unions, was far less certain a b o u t how
to deal with traditio n al musical practices in w orker com m unities, o r w h eth er
these sh ou ld even be co n sid ered as po tential c o n trib u to rs to a working-class
c u ltu r e .112 But th e very rich musical expression in everyday w orker life,
g oing back to the late n in e te e n th c entury, could n o t simply be neglected. It
inclu ded singing ra n g in g fro m the family setting to two- a n d th re e -p a rt h a r
m onies at local feasts, to o rganized choruses singing sentim ental p o p u la r
ballads, folk songs, hymns, o p e re tta hits, ten d e n tio u s lyrics, an d declara
tions o f th e w o rk ers m o v e m e n t.11'1 N o r was th e re a sho rtag e o f musical
in stru m e n ts in th e w ork er tenem en ts, w here the zither, m andolin, guitar,

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a n d ac c o rd io n p re d o m in a te d , b u t violins, wind instrum ents, a n d th e piccolo


p ian o w ere played as well.114
M ost o f this grass-roots music m aking re m a in e d u n to u c h e d by the
K unststelle. O nly the formally o rganized efforts, such as singing societies
a n d m an do lin orchestras, w ere m ad e p a rt o f the SD A Ps cultural program .
T ra n sfo rm in g th e singing societies in to w orthy e x p o n e n ts o f the p a rty s
fu tu re -o rie n te d vision p ro v e d extrem ely difficult. T he eighty-odd separate
V iennese organizations with a total o f 5,000 m em bers, o f which 90 p ercen t
actually w ere w orkers, h a d individual characteristics a n d tra d itio n s.11 O f
these, th e ir conviviality a n d love f o r ban ners, th eir feasts with alcohol, their
frivolity, a n d especially th eir p re fe re n c e fo r light e n te rta in m e n t were c o n
d e m n e d by th e Kunststelle as petty bo u rgeois habits which h a d to be
o v e rc o m e .116
As a corrective, a ttem p ts w ere m ad e to u p g ra d e the musical c o n te n t by
em phasizing th e classical h eritage, in the h o p e th a t professionalization o f
th e singing societies w ould also re d u c e fo rm s o f u nd esirab le sociability.117
But only a tiny n u m b e r o f th e societies could m aster the com plicated choral
com positions; m ost re m a in e d w ed ded to folk a n d light p o p u la r m usic.118
F ro m th e late 1920s on, w hen m ost cu ltu ral organizations were affected by
increased political struggles, th e societies w ere jo in e d into mass choruses to
p e rfo rm newly c re a te d socialist cantatas, orato rio s, a n d m ilitant songs. But
these w ere hardly new cultural form s o f th e w orking class. P o m po u s mass
choruses, hymnlike c om positions . . . the musical style o fte n resem bled that
o f b ou rg eo is late rom anticism . T h e p r e f e r r e d form o f th e whole, however,
was th e religious o r a to r io . 119 T h e singing societies may have particip ated
in these spectacles, b u t they re ta in e d th eir original sociability a n d musical
p references.
Fine arts seem to have h a d a low priority in the SD A Ps a tte m p t at cul
tu ral refo rm . Aside fro m the placem en t o f c o n te m p o ra ry p ro le ta ria n -o ri
e n te d scu lptu re, such as that o f A n to n H anak, in the new m unicipal h o u s
ing, a n d a lim ited p ro d u c tio n o f inexpensive art rep ro d u c tio n s, few
practical m easu res w ere u n d e rta k e n to im prove w orker taste o r to tu rn it in
a socially positive direction. B ut fro m tim e to tim e articles by associates o f
th e B ildungszentrale d e n o u n c e d the b a d taste o f w orkers, claiming that it
reflected th e de g re e to which the bourgeoisie still held the w orking class in
thrall. In a p articularly vicious attack, no d o u b t re a d only by party fu n c tio n
aries, th e c u ltu re e x p e rt R ichard W a g n e r lam basted the average p ro le ta ria n
fo r th e pictures, knick-knacks, fra m e d proverbs, postcards, antimacassars,
a n d o th e r p u rp o rte d ly artistic objects h e u sed to d e c o ra te his h o m e .120 P u b
lic m useum s w ere n o t visited, h e charged, because the w o rk e rs ho m e was a
m u seu m in itself o f the m eans by which the bourgeoisie waged the class
struggle against him a n d at his own cost.
W ag n er hardly w ent beyo n d a d iatribe; o th e rs tried to b e m o re helpful.
In resp on se to a survey a b o u t pictures in th e p ro letarian hom e, one com
m e n ta to r suggested that the typical c h e a p rep ro d u c tio n s o f landscapes,
still liles, a n d g e n re paintings in bad ta ste be sold o r b u rn e d by the worker

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housew ife a n d th a t she should paint h e r walls in plain colors to attain a calm
ing effect.121 Only th e n should pictures be chosen carefully a po rtrait o f
o n e o f the socialist leaders o r a familiar a n d pleasant landscape. In short,
a p ictu re th a t suits every m o o d a n d does n o t d istu rb any gu e st.
I f this a p p ro a c h to a rt in th e w o rk e rs private sp h ere was to substitute
o n e fo rm o f kitsch fo r a n o th e r, o th ers were c o n c e rn e d a b o ut e n han cing the
w o rk e rs taste in art by ex p o su re to the very best. Can the c o n tem po rary
p ro le ta ria t achieve the tru e enjoym ent o f art? o n e c o m m e n ta to r asks.122The
bo urg eo is answ er w ould be no, because w orkers lack the trad ition a n d sen
sibility. But th e w orker can be b ro u g h t to full enjoym ent if he visits m use
ums. O n c e th e re , h e sh o uld avoid painters like R ubens a n d Raphael, whose
subjects are fa r rem ov ed from his own experience. H e m ust seek out
social, accusing, a n d rebellious art th at portrays his sorrows an d n e e d s,
such as the work o f R odin, Millet, M eunier, Kollwitz, a n d Zille.
This a ttitud e, th at th e w o rk er will feel m ost com fortable with and most
a p p re c ia te reflections o f his own everyday h ardships a n d struggles a kind
o f re in fo rc e m e n t o f misery r a th e r th a n th e real a n d im agined w orld o u t
side his ken (invariably called escapist), p erm eates the SD APs orientation
tow ard books, music, th e a te r, a n d art. T he em phasis on social c o n ten t in
such realistic ren d itio n s as those o f Kollwitz o r Zille closely resem bles the
tu r n tow ard socialist realism accom panying th e rise o f Stalin in the Soviet
U nion. H ow ever well in te n tio n ed , asking the w orker to sit dow n to such a
m e a g e r a n d p re sc rib e d cu ltu ral meal, seasoned with adm onitions in p a te r
nalistic tones, d id n o t succeed in en largin g th e realm o f socialist party
culture.
D u rin g th e late 1920s th e Kunststelle a d d e d the m an agem en t o f w orker
feasts a n d festivals to its activities (to b e discussed in th e next section). W ith
th e increasing politicizing o f these as well as m ost o th e r cultural activities
th a t p u t pro p ag and istic values in the fo re fro n t, B achs Kunststelle with its
elitist a rt c h a tte r becam e r e d u n d a n t.123 L a te n t conflicts betw een Bach
a n d youthful critics in the organization came to a he a d a n d led to the d e p a r
tu re o f the Socialist P e rfo rm a n c e G rou p , co m m itted to a g itp ro p a n d caba
r e t .124 I n 1931 Kunst und Volk ceased publication, allegedly fo r financial re a
sons. T he an n u a l r e p o r t o f the national Bildungszentrale fo r that year n o
lo n g e r listed the Kunststelle as a m e m b e r organization.
O n e is fo rc e d to agee with O tto L eichter that the K unststelle failed in
its mission no t, as h e insists, because it did n o t live u p to its potential, b u t
because it p u rsu e d false a n d hopeless goals. Most o f its artistic p ro g ra m was
based o n tu rn in g the w o rk er into a passive consum er. W hatever active artis
tic reso u rces existed in working-class com m unities w ere reje c te d o r ignored
as petty b o urg eo is a n d th e re fo re in b a d taste a n d subversive o f class in te r
ests. Ultimately, th e K unststelles m ain goal was to en n o b le th e a rt a p p re
ciated by th e w orkers by brin g in g th em in c on tact with elite c u ltu re .125 T he
p re su m p tio n u nd erly in g that e n n o b lem en t was th at a p articu lar socialist
o rie n ta tio n to elite art c o uld be devised, so that the w orker c o n su m e r would
be set on th e path o f socialist values in h is tran sform ation .

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T h e difficulty with this assum ption was th a t n o n e o f the SD APs culture


e x perts c o uld conceptualize w hat such a socialist o rie n ta tio n m ight be. In
practice, vague ad m onitions a n d rh e to ric o b sc u re d th e em ptiness o f the
p a rty s p re te n sio n o f converting elite c u ltu re fo r its own aims. This led to
ridiculous claims like the assertion that a w ork o f B eethoven played by the
w orkers sym phony was o f a h ig h er o r d e r th a n the in te rp re ta tio n o f b o u r
geois orchestras, because th e tru e revolutionary essence was being
e x tra c te d .126 T h e K unststelle failed n o t because it was u nab le to form ulate
a n d set in to p ractice a socialist co n c e p tio n o f art. It failed because it u n d e r
took an im possible task: to devise an abstract m odel u n re la te d to the social
realities o f working-class life. T h e reform ist SDAP refu sed to accept a
refo rm ist cu ltu ral goal: that the w o rk ers partakin g o f b ou rgeo is c u ltu re is
p a rt o f a dialectical historical process. T h e p a rty s h ig h -to ned A ustrom arxist
rh e to ric did n o t allow it to subscribe to such an interim goal.
In retro sp e c t, a n d despite the glorifying exhibits with catalogs m o u n te d
in V ienn a in th e past decade, the efforts o f the K unststelle can be seen as
m arginal to th e m ajority o f V iennese workers. It c a n n o t b e d e n ie d that the
elite o f w orkers w ere re a c h e d a n d did benefit from its program s. But it
rem ains d o u b tfu l w h e th e r this was en o u g h , w h e th e r 5 - 1 0 p e rc e n t o f the
w orkers w ould have b een a leaven sufficient to p e rm e a te the whole working
class in later, less tro u b le d decades, a n d w h e th e r a party that was dem ocratic
r a th e r th a n v a n g u a rd should have e n te rta in e d such hopes. It is an im p o r
ta n t q u estio n a b o u t the whole cultural e xp erim en t, to be discussed m ore
fully in th e conclusion.

T o C ulture T h r o u g h A ction:
S p orts an d F estiv a ls as S y m b ols o f P o w er
T h e Socialist p arty c u ltu re discussed so far was based o n th e intellectual
tra n sfo rm a tio n o f w orkers th ro u g h education. N ew spapers a n d jo u rn a ls,
lectures a n d libraries, th e a te r a n d c o n cert p erform an ces, vocal a n d instru
m ental practices, a n d artistic initiations, th o u g h aim ed at all th e workers,
re a c h e d only a varied m inority. Two closely related aspects o f th at party cul
tu re , o rganized sp orts a n d mass festivals, w ere able to a ttract a larg er n u m
b e r o f V iennese w orkers. T hey succeeded mainly because they o ffered an
easy fo rm o f association with mass experience, cate re d to psychological
n eeds o f w orkers fo r relaxation a n d expressions o f self-worth in c o m p e n
sation fo r the increasing te m p o a n d d epersonalization at the w orkplace, a nd
pro v id ed symbolic assurances o f collective strength.
A re c e n t assessm ent o f th e SDAP sp orts p ro g ra m e xaggerates in calling
it a fo rm o f cultural revolution . . . that c o n trib u te d m o re to creatin g a
socialist consciousness an d c o n d u c t th an the best-inten tio ned ex p erim ents
o f socialist e d u c a tio n . 127 Yet th e re is som e tru th to this assertion. H istori
ans o f w orker spo rts have fo r som e lime a ttrib u te d mass participation to the
sh o rte n e d workweek, allowing for m o re leisure lime, and to the intensity,

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sterility, a n d te n sio n -p ro d u c in g quality o f m o d e rn p ro d u c tio n , which cre


ate d anxiety a n d failed to offer personal satisfaction. Sports provided the
m eans f o r achieving a sense o f physical accom plishm ent in a setting o f com
m unity a n d even solidarity.128 By 1931, socialist o rganized sports in V ienna
includ ed 110,000 active m em bers d istrib u ted over a wide variety o f clubs
practicing virtually every kind o f s p o r t.129 T h a t m em bership, based on the
pay m en t o f small fees, h a d re m a in e d stable fo r h a lf a d ecade despite the fact
th a t by 1933 nearly every th ird w orker was unem p loy ed a n d th e trade
u n io n s h a d lost o n e -q u a rte r o f th e ir m e m b e rs.130 It rem ains an o p e n q ues
tion, how ever, w h e th e r this stability reflected the loyalty o f m em bers o r a
stag n atio n o f th e organization. F o r an answ er we will have to tu rn to the
d ev elo p m en t o f the SDAP sp o rts pro g ram , its suppositions a n d practices.
T h e w o rker sp o rts m ovem ent began b e fo re the tu r n o f the century
largely as a reactio n against alcohol a n d its debilitating effect o n th e w ork
ers. But early on this utilitarian p u rp o se was su p e rse d e d by the h o p e that
sports, th ro u g h physical c om p etence, could lead to the atta in m e n t o f a m ea
sure o f socialism h e re a n d n o w .131 V arious in d e p e n d e n t organizations such
as the gymnasts, cyclists, a n d F riends o f N a tu re w ere m erg ed in to an
u m b rella org an ization in 1919. Even th e n organizations such as the w orker
chess club, w hose relatio n to sp orts was do u btful, w ere included. T he final
organizational fo rm was attained in 1924 with th e c reatio n o f the A rb e ite r
b u n d f r S p o rt u n d K rp e rk u ltu r in sterreich (ASK), responsible to the
SDAP th ro u g h the B ildungszentrale. It c o o p te d the clubs fo r swimming,
h andball, fishing, tennis, a n d heavy athletics (wrestling, weight lifting, h am
m e r throw ing, a n d later boxing), as well as organizations whose prim ary
p u rp o se was n o t sports, such as the param ilitary Sch utzbu n d, the Socialist
W o rk e r Y outh, the T ra d e U nion Y outh, a n d the W orker R adio C lu b .132
T h e grow th a n d centralization o f w orker sports did n o t p ro c e e d w ithout
conflicts. In 1923 the gymnasts d e m a n d e d th at all w orker sports organiza
tions b e fo rb id d e n fro m c o n tact with b ou rgeo is sports activities. T h e w orker
soccer association, which played in th e middle-class soccer league, refused
to c o n fo rm . This led to a te m p o ra ry split betw een th e soccer players, for
w hom sp o rt was sp o rt a n d politics was in the party a n d th e trad e unions,
a n d th e gymnasts, who insisted th at sports w ere p a rt o f th e class strug g le.193
In view o f the unity atta in e d by ASKO in th e following year, this m ight seem
to be a m in o r episode, b u t the role o f sports in the SD A Ps cultural p rogram ,
a n d particularly th e relation ship o f spo rts to politics, rem ain ed a constant
p ro b le m a n d source o f dispute.
F ro m its earliest days w o rk er sports h a d b e e n re g a rd e d with suspicion if
n o t hostility by leaders o f th e Socialist party a n d the tra d e unions. T h e c om
m o n view was th a t sp orts w ere merely pleasurable diversions from the real
struggles o f the w o rkers m ovem ent and, lacking any political c o n ten t, they
did not deserve recog n ition o r s u p p o r t.134 A proposal th at w orker sports
organizations be re p re s e n te d at the parly congress i n 1 923 was rejected on
the g ro u n d s that these m em b ers were already re p re se n te d t h r o u g h their
party a n d tra d e u n i o n s . O n l y w h e n a p o l i t i c a l c o n t e n t l o r w o r k e r s p o i ls

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was devised by the SDAP, were they grudgingly accepted as p a rt o f the cul
tural p ro gram . Even th en, sports w ere never co n sid ered on a p a r with o th e r
activities which com m itted party m em bers o r cadres with political m aturity
w ere ex p ected to engage in.
Politicizing w orker sports m ean t first o f all to differentiate th em from
th eir b o urg eo is c o u n te rp a rts, a n d m u ch ink was spilled on this p oint. B o u r
geois sports, it was charged, laid claim to a neutrality which deflected work
ers from th eir class interests, o rie n te d th em tow ard b ourgeois morals, and
tu rn e d them into glad iato rs.136 Bourgeois sports, m orevoer, were based 011
an individual sta r system a n d re c o rd p e rfo rm a n c e reflecting th e capitalist
o rd e r, w here the stro n g triu m p h e d over the w eak.137 T h e ir g reatest sin was
the conversion o f th e playing field in to an im m oral stage on which p e rfo rm
ers e n te rta in e d passive sp e c ta to rs.138
S u p p o rte rs o f w orker sports m aintain ed th at their fu n d am en tal differ
en ce fro m bo u rg eois sports, which ap p ealed to the lowest instincts and
in d e e d to M am m on, consisted o f th e ir progressive ed u catio n in socialism.
T h e body a n d its physical d evelopm ent, it was arg ued, was the n a tu ra l start
ing place fo r o th e r cultural a n d ed ucational advancem ent, a n d the unity o f
body a n d m ind was m o re p roductive th a n purely m ental activity. But such
physical d ev elo pm en t was n o t to be con sid ered an e n d in itself; it had to be
associated with e d u catio n aim ed at the socialist goal. Every sports o r gym
nastics leader was d ire c te d to becom e an ap o stle o f that id e a .139
Above all, th e arg u m e n t ran, w orker spo rts were a collective experience.
In distinction to art, which was the w ork o f e xp erts a n d d e m a n d e d specta
tors, spo rts could be p a rticip ated in by everyone a n d w ere the dom ain o f
am ateu rs. S p e c ta to r sports w ere at best a private p leasu re,140 bu t even they
could b e given a socialist c o n ten t. I f a w orker soccer team played an d w ork
ers w atched passively, A n to n Tesarek, h e a d o f the R ote Falken, claimed, an
educational process was taking place.141 C om petitio n whichtested the w ork
e rs stre n g th a n d increased th e ir p e rfo rm a n c e was co nsidered natural, so
long as it did n o t becom e excessive a n d h in d e r the com plete developm ent
o f th e individual.142 H ans Gastgeb, secretary o f ASKO, sum m arized the
SD A Ps expectations: a com bin ation o f mass sports with political enlight
en m e n t. This m ea n t sp orts n o t simply fo r distraction o r recreatio n b u t for
the c re a tio n o f a pro le ta ria t m entally a n d physically p re p a re d fo r struggles
to overco m e th e reactionry capitalist system .143
I f o n e co m pares the SD A Ps antibo u rgeois adm onitions with the p ro
po sed socialist distinctions o f w orker sports, the vagueness o f th e fo rm ula
tions becom es a p p a re n t. In p ractice these alleged differences m ust have
largely disap peared . H ow could co m petition in team sports really be kept
w ithin b o u n d s, a n d victors n o t b e acclaim ed?144 Even in individual sports
such as gymnastics a n d cycling, w ere th e re n o t excellent a n d in ferio r a th
letes, a n d c ou ld the losers o f a race be really satisfied with having do n e
th eir b e st ? O n e looks in vain fo r the insights o f A dlerian individual psy
chology allegedly a b so rb e d by p arty fu nction aries (but m o re o f th at later).
The distinction between good p roletarian participant an d d ecad en t b o u t-

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geois sp e c ta to r is also am biguous. C ould n o t a w orker active in ASKO sports


be b o th , especially w here team sp o rts were involved?
T h e m ost pro b lem atic aspect o f socialist form ulations was the process
by which politics becam e im p lan ted in w o rk er sports (leaving aside the
n o tio n that p articip atio n in w o rker sports alone was a political signiher). No
d o u b t SDAP sp orts fu n ctio naries w ere c o rrect in claiming that the sense o f
c o m m u n ity a n d solidarity pro vid ed by o rganized w ork er sp o rts indirectly
co m p en sated , at least in pa rt, fo r the feelings o f inferiority an d resignation
instilled in th e p ro le ta ria n at th e w orkplace a n d in capitalist society in g e n
e r a l.145 But such an au to n o m ic effect took place w ithout the p arty s in te r
vention o r co n tro l, which w ere co nsidered essential in giving sports a polit
ical co n ten t. A m o re d ire c t m eth o d was in tro d u c in g a political lecture o r
discussion b e fo re each p ractice session p re c e d in g a sp orts activity o r
e v e n t.I4ti This re q u ire m e n t led to com plaints by leaders o f team sports that
practice sessions w ere simply being avoided by the players.
T h e tech n iq u e m ost widely em ployed to instill a sense o f relatedness to
th e o ng o in g class struggle was the e n fo rc e m e n t o f strict discipline in all
sp o rts activities. Drill, athletic uniform s, d em o n stra tio n s o f precision, a n d
o b ed ien ce to team leaders a n d in stru cto rs were accep ted early on by the
gymnasts, a n d by th e m id-1920s w ere g eneralized th ro u g h o u t ASKO. P u b
lic d e m o n stra tio n s o f th e discipline o f w orker athletes, u n ifo rm e d an d well
g ro o m ed , m arc h in g in step a n d m oving like a mass o rn a m e n t, were
e x p e c te d to c o u n te r th e public image o f th e disorderly w o rk e r.147 They went
h a n d in h a n d with the SD A Ps atte m p t to discipline the w orker family to
make it m o re o rd erly (see c h a p te r 6). They d id n o t c o n trib u te to m aking
w o rker spo rts m o re attractive, particularly to youth, a n d it is do u b tfu l
w h e th e r they e n h a n c e d political ed uc a tio n in the sp orts organizations, save
to make th em u sable f o r political p u rp o se s such as d em o n stratio n s a n d fes
tivals e x tra n e o u s to th e ir p rim ary interest. It was probably the increasing
em phasis o n discipline to the p oin t o f militarization in the early 1930s, m o re
th a n the effects o f massive un em p loy m en t, which p re v e n te d ASKO from
re achin g la rg e r n u m b e rs o f w orkers w ho chose o th e r alternatives.
T h e param ilitary orie n ta tio n o f w orker sports began in 1925 with the
creatio n o f co m bat gymnastics as a sep arate org an ization in ASKO. It was
lim ited to eighteen-year-old males a n d c o n c e n tra te d o n such military skills
as h a n d -to -h a n d co m bat, h a n d g re n a d e throw ing, obstacle course ru n n in g ,
a n d m a n e u v e rs.148 In 1926 the S c h u tz b u n d jo in e d ASKO, Julius D eutsch
becam e the he a d o f b oth , and the m ovem ent tow ard m ilitarization accel
erated . A fter the bloody events o f Ju ly 15, 1927, virtually all m e m b e r o rg a
nizations w ere r e q u ire d to take u p co m b at training, which took th e place o f
all o th e r a ttem p ts at political activity a n d cam e to be viewed as the natural
c o n trib u tio n o f w o rker spo rts to the class struggle. Rigid discipline, a sworn
o ath , a lead ersh ip cult, a n d the b an n in g o f all political discussion m arked
th e e n d o f tlie SD A Ps original goals149; a socialist cultural m ovem ent was
tu rn e d in to a reserve arm y in th e class struggle. W idespread resistance to
this developm ent a m o n g essentially pacifistic w orkers and especially youth

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Mass calisthenics in the P rater during the International W orker Olympics, 1931

(VGA)

h a d little eff ect o n D eutsch, fo r w hom th e increase o f Nazi votes in th e elec


tions o f 1932 m ea n t only th at the tiger was at th e gates.150 O n e o f the littlediscussed side effects o f the increasing masculinization o f w orker sports
th ro u g h com b at train ing was to affirm the second-class status o f w om en a th
letes, already largely seg regated in to th e kind o f sports a p p ro p ria te for
fem ales.
Even th o u g h the SDAP failed to tu r n w orker sports into an institution
fo r th e political e d u catio n o f th e masses o r to tran sfo rm a basically re c re a
tional activity in to an in s tru m e n t o f class struggle, w orker sports p ro d u c e d
symbols o f political im p o rtan ce. In add itio n to the obvious signs o f disci
pline a n d orderliness, solidarity a n d com m unity, th e w orker a th le te s body
itself p ro je c te d an image o f po w er a n d c o n tro l.151 It c o u n te ra c te d the pic
tu re o f w orkers w eakened by toil, in dirty w ork clothes, disorderly, a n d vic
tim ized.152 T h e body o f the w orker athlete, m uscular an d subtle, individually
a n exam ple o f aesthetic pu rity b u t collectively a symbol o f orderliness,
pow er, a n d co n tro l, p ro je c te d an image o f the party sold ier ready to
d e fe n d his class, antithetical to th e w orker slave o f bygone days. T h a t pow
erfu l image was p ro je c te d to w orkers who rem ain ed outside A SK O s form al
s tru c tu re a n d to w ider audiences o utside th e w orking class. It transm itted a
political m essage o f stre n g th in d e p e n d e n t o f th e SD A Ps c on fused attem pts
to link sp orts an d politics. It was recognized a n d fostered by SDAP an d
socialist m unicipal leaders in the final defensive years as an em blem to dispel
the reality o f political indecision.1''3
T h e hig h p o in t o f th e e m b le m a tic qu ality o f w o rk e r s p o rts was r e a c h e d

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d u rin g th e seco n d In te rn a tio n a l W o rk er Olympics h eld in V ienna o n July


1 9 - 2 6 , 1 9 3 1 .154 P re p a ra tio n s fo r this event in clud ed th e com pletion o f a
m o d e rn stad iu m with 6 0 ,0 0 0 seats a n d the re d u c tio n o f tra n sp o rta tio n fees
fo r the e x p e c te d p a rtic ip a n ts.155 T h e su m m e r gam es in V ienna a ttra c te d
77,0 00 p articipan ts fro m n in e te e n m em bers o f the Socialist Sports I n te r
national, including 3 7 ,0 0 0 A ustrian athletes. F o r f o u r days, 20 0,000 spec
tato rs filled the stadium to watch c om p etito rs in every spo rt, including com
bat gymnastics. O n the last day 100,000 participants m arch ed in disciplined
ranks across the in n e r city, traversing th e Ringstrasse o n th e way to the sta
d ium , a n d w ere w atched by countless s p e c ta to rs.156
F o r nearly a week V ienna becam e a w o rkers city as never b efo re o r
after. T he symbol o f A ustrian w o rk er stren g th in the c o n tex t o f the in te r
natio n al w orking class was p ro je c te d in two directions: as a sum m ons to the
u n o rg a n iz e d a n d n o n p a rtic ip a tin g w orkers to jo in these pow erful ranks,
a n d as a m essage to political o p p o n e n ts th at the w orkers sto od ready to p r o
tect themselves a n d th e republic. T h a t the military aspects o f this spectacle
w ere also obvious is reflected in the c o m m e n t by Friedrich Adler, secretary
o f the L a b o r a n d Socialist In te rn a tio n a l, p re se n t in V ienna fo r the o rg an i
za tio n s fo u rth w orld congress. H e ch aracterized the w orker Olympics as
an in te rn a tio n a l military p a ra d e m o re pow erful than anything else the
w orking class has su cceed ed in so fa r. 157 O n e o f th e m ost spectacular events
o f th at week was th e mass festival p e rfo rm e d in the stadium by the whole
panoply o f SDAP cu ltu ral organizations. It clearly revealed th e im p o rta n t
links betw een w ork er spo rts a n d socialist festival c u ltu re in re p re se n tin g
symbolic pow er.
T h e desire to em otionally a ttra c t a n d bind th e w orkers to th e party dates
back to the earliest days o f A ustrian social dem ocracy. V ictor A d le rs adage

Banner parade at the International W orker Olympics, 1931 (VGA)

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I{t'/l Vienna

th a t th e b rain is an inhibiting o r g a n stood in stark co n tra st to the fu n


d a m en tal intellectual o rie n ta tio n o f A u stro m arx ism .158 W ith the p h e n o m e
nal grow th o f SDAP m em b ersh ip in th e early 1920s, the idea o f integrating
th e m ajority o f m em bers, w ho rem ained outside the p a rty s p ro g ram s and
activities, th ro u g h em otional appeals again atta in e d currency. T he p ro le
ta ria n feast, with its ro o ts in a p r e u r b a n past a n d shaped by everyday p ra c
tices in w o rker com m unities, becam e the vehicle fo r this orien tation .
In te g ra tin g such feasts into the SD A Ps cultural p ro g ra m m eant n o t only
to invest th em with a p a rtic u la r socialist political c o n te n t bu t also to cleanse
th e m o f un d esirable characteristics ra n g in g fro m th eir setting in Gasthuser
to th e ir association with th e co n su m p tio n o f alcohol and light en te rta in m e n t
(folk music a n d m arch es).159 In the earliest phase o f SDAP a ttem p ts to tra n s
fo rm w o rker feasts into p ro le ta ria n festivals, a calen d ar o f socialist holidays
was devised to c o m p ete with those o f the Catholic c h u rc h .160 T o these were
a d d e d a variety o f working-class holidays a n d celebrations o f the birthdays
o f perso n s significant to th e m ovem ent. But th e re w ere fre q u e n t com plaints
re g istered with th e B ildungszentrale th at at the local level such serious co m
m e m o ra tio n s e ith e r took place in an u nw orthy setting o r re ta in e d an u n so
cialist, folksy c h a ra c te r.1
T h e SDAP sought to overcom e these local deficiencies by centralizing
w ork er celebrations. A t the beh est o f J o s e p h L u itp o ld S tern th e Kunststelle
took o ver th e o rg an izatio n a n d supervision o f festivals in 1930. In th a t year
it was already able to organize seventy-three o f these o n b e h a lf o f party
locals, tra d e unions, a n d o th e r party organizations. Even th o u g h it devised
the p ro g ra m s sent o ut, it could n o t c o n tro l their execution, so th at serious
ness a n d ed ucational values did n o t p re d o m in a te over en te rta in m e n t. Local
w o rk er feasts re m a in e d a grass-roots affair th r o u g h o u t the p eriod , resisting
SDAP a tte m p ts to m ake th e m co n fo rm to its c o n c e p t o f party culture. In
re ta in in g th e ir original integrity, w orker feasts reflected the on g oin g stru g
gle betw een in dig en o us form s o f w ork er c u ltu re a n d the p a rty s atte m p t to
im pose its own b lu ep rin t.
But local w ork er celebrations w ere hardly the m eans o f em otionally
draw ing th e masses o f w orkers in to th e party. T h a t aim was to be realized in
th e d ev elo p m en t o f mass festivals, in which th e varied form s o f party culture
w ere to play a role. An im petus fo r such a m arshaling o f cultural resources,
it has b een suggested, was July 15, 1927, w hen the w orkers en masse
s to rm e d the Palace o f Ju stic e a n d set it on fire. This act sent shock waves
th ro u g h the party leadership, who ju d g e d the w orkers to have behaved like
illegitimate masses like pitch fork rev olu tio naries, in th e w ords o f Karl
R e n n e r .lb2 It resulted in an aestheticizing o f politics in which w orker festi
vals played an im p o rta n t role, partly to ex p u n g e th at defeat from m em ory
a n d partly to tam e a n d co n tro l th e m asses.163
T h o u g h the tim ing o f th e SD A Ps effort to make mass festivals a central
p a rt o f its c u ltu ral p ro g ra m was n o d o u b t d e te rm in e d by the tra u m a o f July
15, 1927, o th e r motives helped to p ro d u c e this shift in focus. T h e most persisienl o f these, time and again stated as a prim ary aim by the cu ltu re

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109

exp erts, was to in te g ra te the party masses previously barely o r totally u n a f


fected by th e p a rty s organizing e ffo rts.164 It was u n d e rsto o d that attractin g
th e passive w orkers also m ea n t to c o m p ete with radio, film, a n d sp ectator
sports, w hich h a d a grow ing p o p u la r appeal. A n o th e r im p o rta n t motivation
was th e c o n tin u in g success o f th e Catholic passion a n d mystery plays and
o rato rio s, p e rfo rm e d o n high holidays, which in u p d a te d versions cele
b ra te d G o d s mystery, a n d th e ch u rc h as th e all-inclusive com m unity. A sim
ilar so u rce o f c o n c e rn fo r the socialists was th e tre m e n d o u s success o f
neo-C atholic spectacles m o u n te d in Salzburg by Max R einhardt, H u g o von
H o fm a n n sth a l, H e rm a n n Bahr, a n d R ichard Strauss. T h e re the a tte m p t was
m ad e to fuse players a n d spectators in o r d e r to leave th e chaotic p resen t
b eh in d fo r a medieval unity a n d b a ro q u e p ro te c te d n e s s.165
T h e idea o f an all-encom passing mass festival akin to R ichard W a g n e rs
co n c e p tio n o f a Gesammtkumtwerk h a d fascinated SDAP leaders fo r a long
tim e .166 But the actual fo rm o f the mass festival was derived from Russian
proletkult e x p erim en ts in th e early 1920s, as transm itted by G erm an com
m un ist festivals o f th a t tim e .167 It was a d a p te d by the SDAP in V ienna d u rin g
the late 1920s, when it h a d already been a b a n d o n e d elsewhere. T he masses,
Sergei Eisenstein said in an interview in 1929, had been used u p as a
th e m e .168 In its final fo rm the SD A Ps mass festival m ade use o f the Sprechchor, th e g ro u p recitatio n o f p re p a re d texts, which also had b een tran sm it
ted fro m the Russian proletkult via the G erm an com m u nists.169 T he SD APs
cu ltu ral leaders cele b ra te d it as the tru e a rt fo rm o f th e proletariat, involv
ing com m itm en t, collective effort, a n d unity a n d com m un ality .170 It was p r o
claim ed as the voice o f the masses expressing the collective will in a disci
p lined m a n n e r .171 But its form al p re se n ta tio n in mass festivals was n o t left
to w orkers at the grass roots. T h e d e m a n d fo r p erfect spoken G erm an
(ra th e r than the V iennese dialect u biquitous am o n g workers), fo r precision
atta in e d only a fte r extensive practice, a n d for discipline, re q u ire d pro fes
sional p e rfo rm e rs .172 A special Sprechchor o f train ed speakers was established
by th e Kunststelle fo r recitations in the p a rty s im p o rta n t festivals.
T h e m ost successful mass festival was m o u n te d in July 1931 d u rin g the
W o rk e r Olympics. T h e playing field o f the newly cre a te d stadium was tra n s
fo rm e d into an im m ense stage on which musicians, actors, speakers, gym
nasts, singers, R ote Falken, a n d Socialist W o rk er Y outh in blue shirts
4 ,00 0 in all p e rfo rm e d a historical spectacle against a b a c k g rou n d o f artis
tic p ro p s a n d stage effects.173 In the course o f an h o u r the history a n d fu tu re
o f struggling, lab orin g hum anity, shown in tableaux vivants, symbols, an d
mass m ovem ents, led th e audien ce from th e M iddle Ages to industrial cap
italism .174 T ow ard the en d, a h u g e gilt idol re p re se n tin g capitalism was over
thro w n by collective stren g th , a n d th ou san d s o f re d flags carried by youth
in white u sh e re d in th e socialist fu tu re. F ro m a high re d tow er a splendid
voice in to n e d an oath in the m a n n e r o f statem en t a n d resp o nse typical for
the Sprtxhchor, only I his time the audience was p ro m p te d to give the
response: to sw ear th at collectively ii would lighi fo r th e liberation o f work
ing peop le and l<> rem ain faithful lo tin* high ideals o f socialism. The singing

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Mass festival in the new stadium, with participants shown toppling the symbolic gilt
idol o f capitalism, 1931 (VGA)

o f th e I n te rn a tio n a l e n d e d the festivities. This spectacle was re p e a te d


f o u r times b e fo re a total audience o f 2 60,000. T he success o f this festival
resultin g in p a rt from the c o n c u rre n t O lympics in p u ttin g the SDAP on
display b e fo re the la rg e r V iennese public, led to eu p h o ric accounts in the
p a rty s p u b licatio n s.175
L ooking back on this m ost im p o rta n t o f the socialists mass festivals, it
is difficult to share th e p a rty s sense o f triu m p h . This an d o th e r celebrations
h eld betw een 1928 a n d 1931 h a d a co m pen sato ry cha ra c te r fo r the actual
political reversals o f th e SDAP. T hey p o in te d to a fu tu re o f success while
leaving c u rre n t events o u t o f th e picture. D u rin g th a t time th e festivals may
in d e e d have served as a transm ission belt to the mass o f u n in te g ra te d w ork
ers, b u t at best this effect was n o t truly political b u t m o re in the realm o f
mentalit p a rt o f a general clim ate o f working-class presence a n d im p o r
ta n c e which m unicipal socialism and, to a lesser degree, th e p a rty s cul
tu ral p ro g ra m w ere able to enhance. But the mass spectacle also may have
b een a vast th e a te r o f illusions in which the p ow er to to pp le the capitalist
idol was n o th in g b u t a magical d e c e p tio n within th e protective con crete
walls o f the V ienna sta d iu m .176
O u tsid e those walls two m o n th s earlier, th e Styrian H eim w eh r leader
W alter P frim e r h a d a tte m p te d a putsch. It failed, bu t signaled the intensi
fication o f politics by fo rc e .177 T he 1931 festival, which m ade the masses
themselves the h e ro with the pow er to d irect t lie course o f history, did not
co n fro n t this a n d o th e r real th reats lo the republic o n whose survival the
SDAP d e p e n d e d . P erfo rm ers and aud ien ce in ton ing an oath in refrain had

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an exorcistic effect in which the po w er o f individual cognition was s u rre n


d e re d a n d th e p ow er o f decision m aking re d u c e d in favor o f a rom antic a nd
em o tio n al a tta c h m e n t to a value system. 178 T h a t such exorcistic rites, in
which the individual lost him self in th e all, could be even m o re d angerous
is revealed in th e ritual o f Socialist W o rk er Y outh a ro u n d th eir campfires at
th e festival m ark ing the su m m e r solstice. In th e prescrib ed litany o f what
am o u n ts to a socialist auto-da-fe, all enem ies w ere to be consigned to the
flames: trashy films, b a d books, b eer, liquor, wine, swastika, pipe, ciga
rettes, a n d all foolish fashions. 179
In th e increasingly th re a te n in g political en v iro n m en t a fter 1931, the
SDAP a b a n d o n e d th e chiliastic, pseudoreligious m essage o f mass festivals
a n d a tte m p te d to tra n sfo rm th e m in to mass dem o n stratio n s with a m ore
radical, ritualized c o n te n t.180 T he move tow ard cultist expressions was in
keep in g with the aims o f a newly cre a te d p ro p a g a n d a c e n te r within the Bild u n g szen trale u n d e r the d irectio n o f O tto Felix Kanitz. Its d em an d for
m ore, b e tte r, a n d still m o re p ro p a g a n d a , w ithout discussions o f tactics by
the ran k a n d file, b ro u g h t un d erlyin g differences betw een the party youth
a n d lead ership into the o pen . Kanitz an d D eutsch, re p re se n tin g th e lead
ership, a rg u e d that, in view o f th e increasing H eim w ehr a n d Nazi th re a t to
the republic, the disciplined use o f p ro p a g a n d a was the o r d e r o f the day and
th a t d em ocratic decisions on tactics would have to wait. E rnst Fischer,
speaking fo r th e socialist youth, c o u n te re d th at it was impossible to mobilize
the masses w ithout p rio r political discussion a n d that sh eer ob ed ien ce to
p arty directives w ould lead to a vague rom anticism .181 A ltho u gh the points
m ad e seem ed academ ic, they h a d very serious u n d e rto n e s. T u rn in g the p a r
ticipants o f festival d em o n stra tio n s in to party soldiers was to depoliticize
th e m at a time w hen th e p arty leadership was m o re a n d m o re following a
policy o f retreat.
D u rin g this final p arty crisis th e festivals w ere strip p e d o f th eir cultural
aims a n d rep laced by atte m p ts to c o n fro n t reactio n a n d fascism in the
streets by symbolic m e a n s.182 T he SDAP becam e a p articip an t in a kind o f
stre e t th e a te r in which it d e m o n stra te d its public presen ce with flags,
em blem s, b lue shirts, party badges, slogans, greetings, a n d d em on stration s
in resp on se to those o f its o p p o n e n ts .183 But the raised right arm with
clench ed fist to c o u n te r th e Nazi salute, the three-arrow s em blem to negate
th e swastika, a n d the g re e tin g F re ih e it to d row n o u t Heil H itle r were
em pty symbols, lacking in socialist substance a n d goals.184 They n e ith e r
e n c o u ra g e d confidence as expressions o f defense, because the real struggle
was n o t a stre e t dram a, n o r could they mobilize the masses o f w orkers for
socialisms h ig h e r goals, which events h a d p u sh e d to the m argins o f daily
reality.
A s w e h a v e se e n , socialist p a rty c u ltu r e w as n o t s o m e w e ll-th o u g h t-o u t
s c h e m e d i r e c t e d b y a p o w e r f u l c e n t r a l a g e n c y , bill a g a t h e r i n g o f d if fu s e
o r g a n iz a tio n s in c lu d in g m a n y w h o s e r e la tio n s h ip to socialism (b u rial soci
ety, c h e s s c lu b ) o r to w o r k e rs (v acatio n society, a v ia tio n c lu b ) w as te n u o u s

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at best. T h e SDAP tried to infuse these with long-range socialist p erspec


tives to strip them o f th e ir plebeian a n d petty b ourgeois c o n te n t and
e n n o b le th em with infusions o f elite culture. Such en richm en ts frequently
c o n tra d ic te d th e p a rty s a tte m p t to differentiate its cultural p ro g ram from
b ou rgeo is form s a n d practices. A case in p oint is its attack o n spectato r
sp o rts at the sam e time that the W o rk er Olympics a n d mass festivals m ar
shaled th o u sand s o f spectators.
C onsiderab le resistance was e x p erien ced in the efforts by organizations
a n d publications to tra n sfo rm the w orkers into n e u e M en schen ready to
e n te r the socialist p ro m ised land. Singing societies a n d w orker feasts
resisted centralization a n d c o n c e n tra tio n a n d clung to th eir subcultural
form s o f e n te rta in m e n t. Rank-and-file w orkers d isreg ard ed the avalanche
o f p rin te d m a tte r h e a p e d u p o n them , especially the large n u m b e r o f free
publications. M em bers o f w orker libraries could be b ro u g h t to appreciate
th e social novel, b u t n o t th e difficult social a n d scientific lite ra tu re the party
co n sid ered the goal o f c u ltu re d reading.
T h e SD A Ps cultural ex perts deceived themselves with th e alleged
num erical success o f th e ir eff orts. W orkers subscribing to n o n p a rty libraries
o r r e a d in g th e p o p u la r tabloids w ere n o t taken into a ccount in the self-con
g ratulations. N o r was th e fact th a t fo r every w orker in ASK th e re were
twice as m any in n o n p a rty sports organizations. T hese miscalculations
stem m ed fro m a failure to realize o r accept the fact that w orkers disposed
o f th eir newly gained leisure tim e in various old a n d new ways. O ld e r forms
o f re c re a tio n such as Gasthuser, the Heurigen, Variet, th e P rater, a n d hik
ing w ere still enjoyed. T h e new er form s included radio, cinema, a n d spec
ta to r sports, which h a d an increasing appeal. N o allowance was m ade fo r
u n o rg a n iz e d a n d s p o n ta n e o u s leisure activities such as sports, which
affo rd ed large n u m b e rs o f yo u n g p eop le a self-expression th at the discip lin e-o rien ted ASK d e n ie d th e m .185 In sh o rt,th e idea that the SD A Ps cul
tu re c o uld fill th e w o rk ers w hole private sp h e re was unrealistic a n d ign ored
existing life-styles in w orker s u b c u ltu re s.186
W h ereas Socialist party c u ltu re was in theory a dem ocratic o utre a c h to
th e masses o f m em bers, it affected only a m inority o f them . This was hardly
a d m itte d o r possibly n o t even recognized by the functionaries in charge,
partly because, fo r many, keeping th eir p articu lar organization o r activity
g oing b ecam e an e n d in itself, a n d partly because they were victims o f their
own claims o f success. Perh ap s th eir unfam iliarity with a mass party so dif
fe re n t from th e p rew ar co m m itted v a n g uard helps to explain th eir difficulty
in re a c h in g unfam iliar m asses,187 a n d in u n d e rsta n d in g that the d esired cul
tural tra n sfo rm a tio n o f w orkers d e p e n d e d m o re on th eir receptivity th an
o n the theories a n d p ro g ra m s themselves. A n u m b e r o f leaders o f the p a rty s
left wing w ere well aw are o f these shortcom ings a n d d urin g th e last years o f
th e republic p ro te ste d against the elitism a n d social conservatism o f
fun ctio n aries satisfied with rea c h in g only an aristocracy o f w orkers.188
But by th e n , tim e had r u n otii.

Socialist Party Culture


M uch has b e e n w ritten a b o u t th e influence o f A dlerian individual psy
chology on the SD A Ps cultural p ro g ra m .1'1A lthough it certainly influenced
a small g ro u p o f university students, ed u cato rs, a n d social scientists, most
o f these did n o t set th e to n e o f the p a rty s cultural p ro g ram . Its d ire c to rs
co n c e p tio n o f A dlerian th eory consisted mainly o f th e n o tio n that the indi
viduals psychological m ak eu p was malleable a n d th at developm ental feel
ings o f inferiority a n d inadequacy could be rectified. T he SD A Ps p ro g ram
was p re d ic a te d o n the ability to am eliorate the p re su m e d deficiency o f self
h o o d (a c o n se q u e n c e o f capitalist alienation) in the w o rk ers personality.190
But th e re was a negative side to the idea that the w orker was clay to be
s haped a n d a b lank page to be filled by th e party. This no tio n was based on
th e view th a t th e w ork er existed at a bru tish level subject to alcohol, sexual
excesses, a n d th e m anipulations o f capitalist society, a dark image which
only th e party c o uld tu r n in to o n e o f lig h t.191 It w ould seem that the Adlerian
influence was an im p edim ent to the SD A Ps cultural aims, because its in h e r
en t environm entalism allowed functionaries to believe that the worker,
b ein g clay, had as yet no existence worthy o f the nam e. T h e re fo re the
w o rker did n o t n e e d to be u n d e rsto o d o r reached but only shaped. This mis
con c e p tio n m ight explain why so m any o f th e cultural p ro g ram s aim ed wide
o f the mark.
T h e socialist cultural leaders had th e illusion th at th e ir aims would be
achieved in the sh o rt ru n . W e in V ienna, M arie J a h o d a rem em b ered ,
lived with the g reat illusion th a t we w ould be th e g e n eratio n o f fulfillment,
th at o u r g e n e ra tio n w ould b rin g dem ocratic socialism to A ustria. 192 Such
idealism a n d blind optim ism revealed the ten den cy to view history as an act
o f volition r a th e r th a n as a process a con tra d ic tio n o f the hallow ed tenets
o f A ustrom arxism . Socialist Party cultu re pro v id ed new o pp o rtu n itie s to a
p a rt o f the w orking class, b u t its lofty theories a b o u t actualizing socialism
k ept m ost w orkers at a distance. C o u p led with th e refo rm s o f m unicipal
socialism, it c re a te d a clim ate o f o pinion congenial to the w orkers o f Vienna.
This achievem ent was g re a te r th a n th e sum o f all the m em bers an d partici
p an ts in the activities themselves.

CHAPTER 5

W orker Leisure:
Commercial and Mass Culture

In the SDAP's qu est fo r a total w ork er culture, party leaders used their
p o w er base in th e V ienna m unicipal adm inistration to tra n sfo rm the work
e rs public sph ere. As we have seen, r e fo rm efforts in housing, public health,
e d ucatio n, a n d welfare w ere aim ed at p ro d u c in g a new, orderly, a n d class
conscious w orking class.1 T hese efforts, a n d especially th e p a rty s large cul
tural p ro g ra m , w ent b ey on d a tte m p tin g to establish a m o re favorable
w orker en v iro nm ent; they w ere clearly aim ed at ch anging w ork er behavior
as well. In seeking to alter the public sp here, party re fo rm e rs e n c o u n te re d
a traditional political op p o sitio n fro m th e C hristian Social party, the C a th
olic ch u rch , a n d e conom ic p ressu re gro up s. In a tte m p tin g to d o m in ate the
w orkers private sp h e re as well, fa r m o re elusive obstacles a n d o p p o n e n ts
were arrayed against the party: w o rker subcultures; the d o m in a n t bourgeois
c u ltu re, a b o u t which the socialists position was am biguous; a n d an em erg
ing mass cu ltu re. Mass cu ltu re, particularly in its ability to com mercially p e r
m eate everyday life, was a pow erful adversary to th e p a rty s a tte m p t to shape
the w o rkers leisure tim e a n d private space. Its m ost u n iq u e quality, p e r
haps, was its ability to tra n sfe r th e mass p ro d u c tio n o f th e w orking w orld to
the a re n a o f leisure tim e.2 As we shall see, party leaders wavered between
rejectin g a n d w anting to e n n o b le what they co n sid ered vulgar influences in
e n te rta in m e n t a n d co n su m p tio n , a n d struggled against this newest m ani
festation o f pleasu re fo r its own sake.
In th e p e rio d u n d e r co n sid eratio n it w ould be a mistake to draw a sharp
distinction betw een com m ercial a n d mass culture. T h e la tter may be seen to
em erg e in A ustria a n d elsew here in E u ro p e a fte r th e tu rn o f the centu ry and
to begin to replace o ld e r form s o f com m ercial culture. We c a n n o t lose sight
o f the fact that mass c u ltu re is com m ercial. But it involves co m m erce o f a
m o re advanced type, ge a re d to the p ro d u c tio n a n d co n su m p tio n o f large
quantities, reach in g various ta rg e te d m arkets, b ut aim ing at a c o m p re h e n
sive one. It clearly parallels the most advanced techniques and aims o f the
most advanced industry at the tim e.'

Worker Leisure: Commercial and Mass Culture

115

In th e years following th e war, V iennese w orkers were exposed to an d


c o n su m e d p ro d u c ts o f the o ld e r com m ercial c u ltu re the Gasthaus, circus,
a m u se m e n t park, b oxing a n d w restling ring, d ance hall, variety theater,
h o m e decoratio ns, p a te n t medicines, a n d so fo r th as well as those o f the
e m e rg in g mass c u ltu re such as cinem a, radio, dim e novels, sp ectato r sports
(especially soccer), a n d cosmetics. A mass clientele becam e increasingly
im p o rta n t to b o th o ld e r a n d new er form s o f com m ercial culture, an d the
w orking class was perceived by that c u ltu re s purveyors as providing a mass
m arket.
Working-class sub cultures w ere ex po sed to the advertised allures o f the
new c u ltu re p ro d u c ts, a n d these becam e p a rt o f w orker experience insofar
as c o n stra in e d w o rk er b u dg ets allowed. W ithin the w orker su bcu ltu re th ere
is little evidence o f resistance to the blandishm ents o f com m ercial o r mass
c u ltu re. T o acqu ire o r p articipate in these p ro d u c ts a n d activities was a
m eans o f ex te n d in g w o rk er life-style at least in small m easu re in th e direc
tion o f those w ho w ere b e tte r o ff a n d b e tte r able to co n su m e.4
Socialist leaders a n d city fath ers a tte m p tin g to create a total w orker
c o u n te rc u ltu re within the d o m in a n t b ourgeois c u ltu re were essentially
u n p r e p a r e d fo r th e challenge a n d com p etitio n o ffered to th eir efforts by
com m ercial/m ass c u ltu re in the m arketplace. M uch as h a d b een th e case
a m o n g middle-class re fo rm e rs, th e socialists d e n ig ra te d this co m p e tito r as
crass a n d vulgar, a n d its p ro d u c ts as superficial pleasures u nw orthy o f the
e m e rg in g new style o f w orker. A m o ng those who m ade socialist c u ltu re pol
icy th e re w ere few th ro u g h o u t th e p e rio d who were able to go beyond this
very n a rro w rejection o f mass c u ltu re as ju s t a n o th e r evil o f the capitalist
system. But even a m o n g th e lonely voices who realized that c o m m ercial/
mass c u ltu re co u ld n o t simply be wished away by c o n d em natio n , hardly any
o n e could see f u r th e r th a n the n e e d to e n n o ble mass c u ltu re by uplifting it
to th e quality (and c o n te n t, o fte n enough) o f elite c u ltu re .5
It is im p o rta n t to keep in m ind th at in th e realm o f w orker leisure com
mercial, n on co m m ercial, a n d mass cultural form s coexisted a n d c o m p eted
with th e Socialist p a rty s a ttem p ts to develop an all-encom passing cultural
p ro g ra m o f its own. T h e com m ercial cu ltu re included such o ld e r e n te rta in
m e n t form s as the Gasthaus/W irtshaus, P ra te r, circus, Varit, dancing, balls,
b o xing m atches, a n d parades. The noncom m ercial included c h ild re n s
stre e t play, swimm ing in th e D a n u b e (at th e L o b a u beaches), u n o rg an ized
sp o rts (especially soccer), a n d hiking in the W ienerwald. T h e new er masscom m ercial fo rm s radio, film, a n d professional sp e c ta to r sports (soc
cer) partly because o f th e ir industrial fo rm o f organization a n d d istrib u
tio n o ffered sh arp co m p etitio n to o ld e r form s o f e n te rta in m e n t.6
H ow m any h o u rs in the V iennese w o rk e rs day o r week could be devoted
to leisure activities? It is a difficult qu estio n to answer. A lthough th e eighth o u r day becam e law in 1919, th e average five-and-a-half-day week was at
best limited to forty-eight h o u rs.7 Travel time to a n d fro m work fu rth e r
re d u c e d free tim e o n weekdays, as did the overtim e frequ en tly necessary to
su p p lem en t low wages. T he largest block o f free time was d u rin g the one-

116

Red Vietnui

and-a-half-day w eekend, but with great g e n d e r differences resulting from


w o m e n s fre q u e n t triple b u rd e n o f work, housew ork, a n d child rearing.
Y o u ng er w orkers generally h a d few er dom estic responsibilities a n d g reater
o p p o rtu n ity fo r leisure. T h e onset o f the depression in 1930 a n d the rapid
increase o f u n em p lo y m en t c o n fo u n d e d the previous tim e b u dg ets o f work
ers. Em ployers used the crisis to e x te n d the workweek, speed u p work p ro
cesses, a n d re n e g e o n paid vacations. Even the growing arm y o f u n e m
ployed re s p o n d e d variously to th e ir fo rced freedom . Y oung workers,
including m a rrie d couples w ithout children, fu n c tio n e d in the part-tim e
gray m arket to improvise th eir survival a n d used their newly fo u n d free time
creatively, while family heads suffered fro m a loss o f identity an d selfresp ect.9
W h en o n e considers these variations, it becom es clear th at th e q uestion
p osed above can be answ ered only in general terms: th e re was an absolute
gain in w o rk ers leisure time, b u t it was m odified by the conditions
described. M ost im p o rta n t may have b e e n the a ttitu de, w idespread in the
1920s, th at th e w orker h a d a right to free time, a n d that he toiled in o rd e r
to win as large a p o rtio n o f it as possible.

C om m ercia l C ulture
O n e o f th e m ost im p o rta n t com m ercial institutions in the life o f the V ien
nese w orking class was th e Gasthaus o r Wirtshaus. T hese establishm ents p ro
vided meals a n d snacks, alcoholic beverages, lodgings, a n d m eeting rooms.
O n S atu rd ay n ig ht a n d Sundays p o p u la r singers e n te rta in e d a n d Schram
meln q u a rte ts (two violins, a bass, a n d a clarinet) played d ance music. In the
last q u a r te r o f th e n in e te e n th century, w hen h a lf the Viennese work force
was still artisanal a n d h a lf the w orkers did n o t live in their own hom es, Gast
huser w ere a virtual h o m e away fro m h o m e a n d th e m ost im p o rta n t c e n te r
o f w ork er sociability.10 As c o m m u n ication cen ters they also h a d a sexual,
political, a n d a ccu ltu ratin g function: o n w eekends male jo u rn e y m e n an d
fem ale w orkers were able to enjoy th e erotic am bience; jo u rn e y m e n estab
lished bases th e re fo r th eir p articu lar tra d e (Gesellenherbergen), tu rn in g them
into hirin g halls, a locale fo r the settlem ent o f conflicts at the workplace,
a n d strike c enters; a n d the m ajority o f jo u rn e y m e n , who w ere o f Bohemian
a n d M oravian origin a n d spoke Czech at th e w orkplace, a tte m p te d assimi
lation by speaking G erm an.
By 1919 the Gasthaus h a d lost m any o f its prein d ustrial social a n d polit
ical functions. T h e e n o rm o u s increase in m arriages a n d m o re stable w orker
families, a n d the m ain ten an ce o f w artim e re n t co ntro l by the municipal
adm inistratio n , m ade th e su rro g a te dom icile fun ctio n o f the Gasthaus obso
lete. Similarly, th e full-scale d ev elo p m en t o f tra d e unions a n d the Socialist
party largely replaced the Gasthaus as a prim itive c e n te r o f w orker econom ic
a n d political activities. Yet Gasthuser c o n tin u e d to play a significant role in
the working-class com m unities o f Vienna. T h eir proxim ity to the growing
n u m b e r o f industi ial e n te rp i ises m ade Ihem the lmu hlim e c e n te r o f male

Worker Leisure: Commercial and Mass Culture

117

w o rker c o m m u n ic a tio n .11 Gasthuser also d o tte d the streets o f working-class


n eig h b o rh o o d s, w here they c o n tin u e d to provide w eekend e n te rta in m e n t
fo r b o th sexes an d a weekday m eeting place fo r male w o rk ers.12 Despite the
Socialist p a rty s a tte m p t to locate party activities e ith e r in w orker centers
(Arbeiterheime) o r in special m eeting room s in the larger m unicipal housing
projects, m any party locals c o n tin u e d to m eet in th e n eig h b o rh o o d Gasthaus
o f w o rk er c h o ic e .13
O n the whole, however, the fun ctio n o f the Gasthaus was re d u c e d to a
place w here e n te rta in m e n t a n d sociability h a d to be paid for. N o d o ub t their
n u m b e r declined b etw een 1870 a n d the early 1930s, as Joseph E h m er d e m
o n s tra te s .14 But th eir n u m b e r rem ain ed considerable in the postw ar perio d
(3,713 in 1931) a n d show ed a rem arkable stability d u rin g the econom ic cri
sis o f 1 9 3 0 -3 3 , w hen re d u c e d w orker b udgets m ade com m ercial e n te rta in
m ents m o re o f a lu x u ry .15 This suggests that, as on e o f the oldest form s o f
com m ercial c ulture, they were able to m aintain a significant place in w orker
lives despite the alternative o ffered by the Socialist party culture a n d the
c o m p etitio n o f m ass-cultural en te rta in m e n t.
A n o th e r long-standing a n d particularly Viennese in stitution o f w orker
relaxation was the Heurigen. T he w inegrow ing areas to the n o rth a n d south
o f Vienna, virtually en c ro a c h in g o n the city limits, were d o tte d with small
vintners w ho sold th eir new wine to a m ixed public o f Viennese seeking cool,
convivial su rro u n d in g s in th e su m m e r m onths. Serving a p o p u la r clientele,
these small establishm ents w ere located in o r n e a r th e vineyards and c o n
sisted o f little m o re th a n a few shade trees a n d som e rou g h w ooden tables
a n d benches. F o r the price o f several q u a rte r liters o f wine, w orkers an d
th e ir families could enjoy a w eekend evening meal, usually consisting o f cold
snacks b ro u g h t fro m hom e. Singing a n d dancing, occasionally accom panied
by an in stru m e n t, pro vid ed the im provised e n te rta in m e n t fo r adults; the
child ren played in the s u rro u n d in g fields. T he a tm o sp h e re was on e o f high
spirits occasioned by a sense o f liberation fro m the oppressive atm o sp h ere
o f the w orkplace a n d crow ded domiciles. Most o f the Heurigen could be
re a c h e d by public tra n sp o rta tio n followed by a sh o rt walk.
N o d o u b t the Heurigen h ad its heyday b efo re W o rld W ar I, b u t the insti
tu tio n seems to have c o n tin u e d to draw the public in the interw ar period.
U nfo rtu n ately , this p o p u la r site o f e n te rta in m e n t rem ains entirely u n s tu d
ied, m aking it difficult to ascertain th e ex ten t o f its c o n tin u in g popularity.
T h e re is som e evidence to suggest that the Nobelheurigen large establish
m ents with h o t buffets, music, an d form al e n te rta in m e n t, flower a n d toy
sellers, a n d taxis on d em an d , serving the V iennese Brger a n d foreign to u r
ists largely went b a n k ru p t d u rin g the depression; but the small e n te r
prises, which w orkers h a d fre q u e n te d by traditio n , seem to have survived.16
T h e largest dom ain o f p o p u la r e n te rta in m e n t in V ienna was the P rater,
a fo rm e r royal h u n tin g preserve d o n a te d to th e public in the 1880s. This
huge g reen space c o n ta in e d lawns a n d sh ad ed walks, p on d s for rowing, bicy
cle lanes a n d bridle paths, soccer fields, an am usem ent park with the fam ous
Riesenrad (Ferris wheel), n u m e ro u s Gasthuser an d snack stands, and (by the
early 1930s) a stadium acco m m o d atin g (>0,000 sp ectato rs and a swimming

1 18

Red Vienna

pool a n d su n n in g lawns with a capacity o f m any h u n d r e d s .17 F rom its earliest


days as a public facility, the P ra te r was a focal p o int o f mass e n te rta in m e n t
a n d activity. A n exhibit o f 1895 en title d Venice in V ienn a, em ulating the
city o f canals a n d h a rb o rin g re sta u ra n ts a n d theaters, a ttra c te d 2 million
visitors in its first year. T he O lym pia A rena, o p e n e d in 1902, was the largest
o pe n -a ir th e a te r in E u ro p e, with 4 ,00 0 seats. T he first May Day procession
o f w orkers in 1890 along the Ringstrasse te rm in a te d with a convocation in
the P rater.
T h e P ra te r c o n tin u e d as a c e n te r o f spectacles a n d crowds in the 1920s
a n d 1930s: a folk costum e p a ra d e o f 1921 a ttra c te d 40 0 ,0 0 0 spectators; the
flower p a ra d e o f 1925, with 4 00 floats, was viewed by h a lf a million; in 1928,
th e te n th G erm an S ong Society Festival assem bled 40,0 00 singers; and the
biann u al Wiener Messe (trade fair) lu re d h u n d re d s o f tho u san d s to see the
latest p ro d u c ts o f dom estic a n d foreign industry a n d technology. T he V ien
nese who flocked to the P ra te r o n a typical Sunday a fte rn o o n e n te re d the
g ro u n d s free o f charge an d also paid n o th in g as spectators o f passing
p arad es o r the general scene. A lmost everything else cam e at a price, from
th e b eer, soft drinks, a n d sausages c on su m ed fo r sm airch an ge by the great
m u ltitu d e to th e costlier rides in th e am u sem en t park, re n te d row boats, Gas
thuser, circuses, a n d variety theaters. As w orker b udgets rarely allowed for
m o re th a n five Schillings a week fo r nonessential items, w orkers no do u b t
c o n su m e d the com m ercial offerings sparingly.18 Even so, w orkers c o n trib
u te d to a n d im bibed th e holiday a tm o sp h e re o f the crow d an am bience
p ro d u c e d in large m easure by th e com m ercial cultural p ro d u c ts fo r sale.19
T h e P ra te r also h o u sed a large n u m b e r o f the m ost sophisticated com
mercial e n tertain m en ts: circuses a n d variety th eaters.20 A lthough b o th o f
these h a d a lo n g history as distinct en te rta in m e n ts b e fo re th e war, they
increasingly b o rro w e d fro m each o th e r in the postw ar p e rio d a n d atte m p te d
to m o d ern ize in o r d e r to c o m p ete with new er com m ercial c o m petito rs such
as film. Varietes in tro d u c e d living p h o to g ra p h s (Biotophone) a n d Bio
scope film shorts; circuses sought new audiences by featu rin g boxing
m atches.21 B oth struggled in the first p ostw ar years with inflation, later with
the m unicipal e n te rta in m e n t luxury tax, a n d a fte r 1930 with the depression.
T h e ir a tte m p t to re c a p tu re th eir previous standing as leading com m ercial
form s o f p o p u la r e n te rta in m e n t w ere largely a re a r-g u a rd action against
new technological com m ercial c u ltu re the mass m edia. Yet if we consider
the n u m b e r o f sp ectators that c o n tin u e d to be draw n to circuses a n d Varietes
in th e interw ar years, th eir role as a p o p u la r leisure activity a m o n g workers
n eeds f u r th e r c onsideration.
Anim al acts co n tin u e d to be th e distinguishing characteristic o f circuses,
making th em a favorite as family e n te rta in m e n t. A lthough only two p e r
m a n e n t circus stru ctu res, the Zentral a n d Renz, rem ain ed in o r n e a r the
P rater, n u m e ro u s foreign circuses pitch ed their huge tents th e re for
en gag em en ts each season. In 1931 (lie largest o f these had a now almost
unbelievable n u m b e r o f spectators: Circus Kludsky drew 1(),()()(), Zirkus
Gleich 12,000, an d Zirkus K rone 13,000 p e r perform anc e . E v e n smaller
circuses with a tent capacity of 5,000 totaled an audience o f 3 0 0,000 in

Worker Leisure: Commercial and Mass Culture

1927.23 Less cele b ra te d as purveyors o f spectacles b u t equally im p o rta n t as


p o p u la r e n te rta in m e n t w ere circuses outside the Prater. T en tin g on o p en
spaces in th e p a rt o f th e city with large working-class populations, these cir
cuses drew steady audiences at very m odest prices.24
Both the price stru c tu re an d total audience size are difficult to ascertain.
C h e a p e r seats in even th e largest circuses a p p e a r to have b een within the 50
G ro schen to 1 Schilling range, a n d w ere 50 p ercen t c h e a p e r in the small
local ones. A pp ro xim ation s o f a tte n d a n c e are even m o re difficult. By using
th e K ro n e s ratio o f te n t capacity to seasonal aud ien ce fo r the largest cir
cuses (10,000 to 13,000 seats), we arrive at an a n nu al audience o f m ore than
6 0 0 ,0 0 0 fo r each o f these. By ad din g the several larger an d smaller circuses
in th e P r a te r to th e small local ones (several h u n d r e d seats), on e m ight arrive
at a weekly th at is w eekend total o f 80,0 0 0 to 100,000 circusgoers.25
T h o u g h these figures suggest th a t circuses c o n tin u e d to play a significant
role a m o n g p o p u la r e n te rta in m e n ts in V ienna, even w eatherin g the finan
cial stresses a fte r 1930, th eir decline is also palpable.26
T h e V iennese Variet th e a te r, co m p arab le to the A m erican vaudeville,
the English music hall, a n d the F re n c h caf concert, sh ared with its foreign
c o u n te rp a rts the r e p u ta tio n o f being a serious c o m p e tito r to the elite legit
im a te th e a te r, a n d was w ithout rival in attra c tin g a large a n d varied public.
F rom th e second h a lf o f the n in e te e th c en tu ry to the e n d o f the war, Variet
enjoyed an e n o rm o u s pop ularity a m o n g the lower m iddle an d working class.
T h o u g h the d o m in a n t elite c u ltu re clung to the o p e ra house, th eater, and
c o n c e rt hall, even it e m u la te d a n d b o rro w e d fro m the Variet (operettas, for
instance) o r c re a te d versions o f it sufficiently elevated a n d exclusive to be
acceptable.27
F rom its beginnings the Viennese Variet thrived o n its versatility as a
m ixed art form , offering sh o rt n u m b e rs o f great variety to please audiences
o f diverse taste: scenes from op erettas, skits, p o p u la r songs, dance, com e
dians, a n d above all o rch estral m usic.28 A fter the war the Variets w ere u n se t
tled by econom ic instability a n d th re a te n e d by the new mass media; they
a tte m p te d to h old th eir audiences by ad d in g acrobats, ju gg lers, strongm en,
clowns, a n d clairvoyants as well as D u ncan esq ue dan ce a n d the A m erican
C h arlesto n a n d Black B o tto m to th eir offerings. In keeping with a changed
clim ate in public m orals a fte r the war, partial nudity increasingly becam e a
to p d raw ing card o n Variet stages.29
The largest Variets in a n d outside the P ra te r fe a tu re d leading stars o f
the V iennese stage, screen, a n d c o n c e rt hall as well as in ternatio nal stars like
the A m erican Jo s e p h in e Baker, the Parisian M istinguett, a n d th e Tiller Girls
o f Berlin.30 Given th e prices o f these first-run establishm ents (m ore than one
Schilling minim um ), th e traditional public fre q u e n te d c h e a p e r a n d m o re
congenial Variets such as the Leicht-V ariet in the P rater. T here, fo r little
m o re than 50 G roschen, o n e could enjoy an excellent p ro g ra m with the
sam e distinguished stars (who co nsid ered p e rfo rm a n c e b efo re a p o p u la r
a u d ience a con firm atio n o f success), plus a plate o f kolbas, potatoes, an d
gravy.31
Ily 1 9 3 3 n i n e o f t h e l a r g e , s u c c e s s i til Variet t h e a t e r s e m p l o y i n g s o m e

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300 artists w ere still playing to full houses. But c o m petition fro m mass cul
tu re h a d taken its toll: som e o f the m ost fam ous Varits had b e e n converted
into movie houses in the previous five years (Colosseum, Apollo, J o h a n n
Strauss, N eues O rp h e u m , L u stspieltheater).32 T he Varit as truly p o p u la r
e n te rta in m e n t survived best in the small w ooden stru c tu re s dispersed
th r o u g h o u t th e working-class districts o f Favoriten, O ttakring, an d Brigit
te n a u .33 W ith 200 to 300 seats, a n d prices in the 50 G ro sch en to on e Schil
ling range, they offered alte rn a tin g p rog ram s o f theater, revues, peasant
com edies, a n d Variet to a loyal public. T o these m ust be a d d e d n u m ero u s
Gasthuser which prov ided Variet o n a m uch re d u c e d scale as an e n te rta in
m en t su p p lem en tary to the foo d a n d d rin k consu m ed by th eir custom ers.
T h e smallest establishm ents with less th a n fifty seats, offering Variet o f
sorts, w ere e x clu ded fro m the m unicipal luxury tax a n d license re q u ire m e n t
a n d c ou ld offer m o re o r less a m a te u r e n te rta in m e n t at very low prices.34
Like th e circus, Variet was a declining fo rm o f com m ercial e n te rta in m e n t
th at strug g led to m aintain its past popularity. Given the diversity o f estab
lishm ents, the size o f its public is difficult to estimate. It is d o u b tfu l w h eth er
w eekend audiences ever exceeded 2 0 - 3 0 ,0 0 0 . In all likelihood workingclass co nsu m ers fo rm e d less th a n h a lf th a t num b er.
Tw o o th e r com m ercial e n te rta in m e n ts attractive to w orkers deserve
m ention: d a n c in g a n d balls. In the p ostw ar p e rio d the sp o n ta n e o u s d ancing
at Gasthuser a n d Heurigen was increasingly su p e rse d e d am o n g the y oung
by d a n c in g at com m ercial d a ncin g schools. T hese establishm ents provided
n o t only in stru ctio n b u t also a place fo r the initiated to take th eir pleasure
by exercising th eir skill.35 A Sunday a fte rn o o n enjoyed by you ng w orkers in
this am bience o f p r o p e r dress a n d c o m p o rtm e n t b ro u g h t them into contact
with an unfam iliar b u t attractive world. N o d o u b t dancin g schools also
played an im p o rta n t role in prov id ing a setting fo r the cou rtsh ip o f young
w orkers. T he n a tu re o f this individualistic e n te rta in m e n t particularly dis
tu rb e d Socialist party ed u c a to rs a n d y ou th leaders. T h eir d en u n c ia tio n o f
couple d a n cin g as senseless plesasure-seeking a n d sensuality (a sign o f false
consciousness), a n d th eir c h am p ion ing o f folk dan cin g in which the circle
symbolized equality, purity o f spirit, a n d the collectivity will be discussed
later. R elated occasions fo r yo ung w orkers to enjoy couple d an cin g w ere the
public balls o rg an ized usually annually a ro u n d nationally observed holi
days by various trades (laundresses, tram waym en, firem en, seamstresses,
etc.). At these festivities d a n cing to live bands, food, alcohol, prizes, a n d spe
cial events w ere a g reat a ttractio n, draw ing large n u m b e rs o f participants.

N o n c o m m e r c ia l L eisu re-T im e A ctiv ities


T h e n on com m ercial leisure-tim e activities o f Viennese w orkers are the most
elusive o f the various cu ltu ral form s u n d e r consideration. T h e re is n o way
to m easu re the e x te n t to which such activities took u p the w orkers precious
free time a n d c o m p e te d with com m ercial and mass c u ltu re as well as Social

Worker Leisure: Commercial and Mass Culture

121

ist p arty culture. W e know o f th eir existence fro m c o n te m p o ra ry oral his


tories as well as q u estio n naires a n d social studies o f th e time. They must, if
by n o th in g m o re th a n en u m e ra tio n , e n te r o u r calculation o f how m uch o f
the w o rk ers time was available fo r th e new p ro le ta ria n c o u n te rc u ltu re the
SDAP a tte m p te d to create.
T h e im m ediate locale o f childh o od re creatio n was the street o r the
em pty spaces o f th e working-class n e ig h b o rh o o d .36 As we will see in the later
discussion o f the family a n d sexuality (ch apter 6), u rb a n niches played an
im p o rta n t role in the socialization o f working-class children. T h ro u g h play
in its bro ad est sense th e au th o rities a n d b o u n daries o f the com m unity were
a p p re h e n d e d , social a n d sexual distinctions a m o n g the players were draw n
a n d observed, a n d a d om ain o f selfhood distinct fro m the ad u lt w orld was
established. In ascertaining the social aspect o f stre e t play, two o f its intrin
sic aspects should n o t be overlooked: its liberating c h a ra c te r (from parental
a u th o rity a n d the d ep ressing confin em en t o f cro w d ed domiciles), an d its
sp o n ta n e o u s organizational possibilities (single-sex a n d mixed-sex g ro u p
ings, p ro x im ate a n d distant locales, cooperative a n d com petitive form s.)37
Seen in this light, c h ild re n s street play was a liberating con trast n o t only to
the au th o rity im posed by school an d p arents, b u t also to such municipal
facilities as after-school cen ters a n d socialist institutions fo r children like the
R o te Falken, whose s tru c tu re s were p re d e te rm in e d a n d p red icated on
discipline.
A m ong a d u lt V iennese w orkers the single m ost p re fe rre d n o n c o m m e r
cial fo rm o f re c re a tio n was ram bling and hiking. T h e strongly expressed
d esire to escape fro m the d e hu m anization o f th e w orkplace a n d the c o n
finem ent o f domiciles in to n a tu re led tho u san ds o f w orkers to explore the
vast expanse o f th e W ienerw ald b o rd e rin g the city. Sunday was the p r e
fe rre d day fo r such excursions, fo r th e n even m a rrie d w om en with children
w ere able to wrest several h o u rs o f recreatio n fro m th eir dom estic re s p o n
sibilities.38 T h e virtual p aean to n a tu re fo u n d in c o n te m p o ra ry studies and
re c e n t rem iniscences seems to imply m o re than the desire fo r recreatio n
away fro m the confines o f u rb a n life. It suggests the m o m en tary escape from
all the restraints o f everyday life in to a different a n d regenerative w orld
w here a restrictive o r d e r did n o t exist a n d individual inclinations could be
follow ed.39
Swimming was a n o th e r p o p u la r leisure-tim e activity. It was p u rsu e d at
various com m ercial beaches along the low er D an ub e o r at the grow ing n u m
b e r o f m unicipal swimming pools, b o th o f which served the tens o f
tho u sand s g rip p e d by a virtual swimming mania. T h e passion fo r swimming
am o n g V iennese w orkers virtually ab sen t in the large cities o f o th e r c o u n
tries was m ade possible a n d e n c o u ra g e d by the n u m e ro u s swimming pools
cre a te d u n d e r th e auspices o f m unicipal socialism.40 But y oung workers
w ere especially draw n to the ru gged beaches o f th e L ob au along the u p p e r
D anube, a te rra in known colloquially as the pro le ta ria n Riviera. H ere,
swimming was free not only o f paid admissions hut also o f im posed rules and
stru c tu re s.41 B eginning on Saturday afte rn o o n s swarms o f you ng workers

Kongressbad, one o f the largest swimming pools in Europe (measuring 100 X 20


meters), with 450,000 paying bathers in 1930 (VGA)

arrived with friends, carrying provisions, a n d often sp e n t the night u n d e r


the stars. O ral histories a n d m em oirists speak o f the u n iq u e sense o f liber
ation they e x p erien ced th e re fro m the cares o f the workweek a n d from the
reg im e n ta tio n o f everyday life, a n d marvel at the m ix ture o f spontaneity,
individualism, a n d fellowship which prevailed.42 It is no t surprisin g that
m any y o u ng workers, to o p o o r to travel elsew here d u rin g th eir week o f stat
u to ry vacation, re g a rd e d the L o b au as th e ir Riviera.
Swimming and spontaneous youth culture along the I.obau (VGA)

Soccer was a n o th e r noncom m ercial form o f recreation am o n g young


male workers. It re q u ire d little o r n o organization beyond a sufficient n u m
b e r o f friends to c o n stitu te two teams. Its locale was the n eig h b o rh o o d
spaces familiar from child ho o d as well as op en terra in along th e D an ub e and
in th e P ra te r.43 W hat m ad e this u n o rg an ized sp o rt attractive to young work
ers was th e o p p o rtu n ity to associate spontaneously with o n e s friends and
the sense o f fre e d o m im p a rte d by th e ability to shape a n d co ntrol all aspects
o f th e activity. U n o rg an ized soccer was by n o m eans a substitute fo r orga
nized sports o ffered by th e Socialist party o r fo r sp ectato r sports, whose
p o p ularity was steadily increasing. But it rem ain ed o n e o f the increasing
n u m b e r o f recreatio n al choices available to yo ung male w orkers in their lei
su re time. In th e realm o f sp o rts as in o th e r recreatio n al forms, comm ercial,
n o ncom m ercial, mass cultural, a n d party cultural activities coexisted and
vied with o n e a n o th e r a sim ultaneity im p o rta n t in u n d e rsta n d in g the
e x te n t to which w orkers were accessible to th e p ro le ta ria n c o u n te rc u ltu re
th e SDAP was c reatin g f o r th e m .44
Finally, a fre qu en tly overlooked n o ncom m ercial leisure activity which
c o m b in ed recreatio n with the quality o f the w orkers living sta n d a rd were
th e Schrebergrten o r small g ard en plots o n the p erip hery o f th e city. W orker
families strove to attain o n e o f these allotm ents leased by the municipality
fo r a nom inal fee a n d also by private e n tre p re n e u rs . In their g a rd e n the
w orker family grew vegetables a n d fruits to be eaten in th e su m m er bu t also
p reserv ed fo r later co n su m p tio n , raised rabbits, b u t m ost o f all enjoyed the
fre e d o m o f b ein g in to uch with n a tu re on th eir own plot a n d usually in the
proxim ity o f friends a n d n eighbors from the city. By 1932 som e 14,000 o f
these Schrebergrten existed.45 A n u m b e r o f these included primitive over
n ig ht hab itation s w hich h a d b e e n illegally co n v erted fro m tool sheds. Espe
cially d u rin g the depression, these g a rd e n plots becam e an essential su p ple
m ental source o f fo od fo r many families.
N o d o u b t o th e r m in o r form s o f com m ercial a n d n oncom m ercial c u ltu re
existed which have n o t b een a c c o u n te d fo r here. W hat em erges from the
form s con sid ered is the wide variety o f leisure-tim e activities, o th e r than
tho se proff e re d by the Socialist party, available to a n d en g aged in by Vien
nese w orkers. T h o u g h the difficulty in m easurin g the e x te n t o f w orker p a r
ticipation in these has n o t be e n overcom e, it is fair to say th at they re p r e
s e n te d a significant co m p etitio n to SDAP a ttem p ts to c reate a proletarian
c o u n te rc u ltu re . T h e la tte r faced an even m o re serious challenge from mass
c u ltu re, w hose u n iq u e po w er to c reate needs an d satisfy co nsum ers m ade it
a pow erful adversary. All this com p etitio n a m o n g cultural form s was m ade
possible, in th e 1920s a n d early 1930s, by the sh o rte n e d workweek and
a tte n d a n t grow th o f leisure time o f the w orking class.4b

P o p u la r C ulture C o n d e m n e d
T h e Socialist party viewed p o p u la r culture, the wide array o f com m ercial
a n d noncom m ercial leisure-tim e activities in which th e w orkers partici

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pated, as an obstacle to be overcom e, if the p a rty s civilizing mission was


to succeed. As we have seen (ch ap ter 4), the party succeeded in attractin g
only a relatively limited n u m b e r o f w orkers to its cultural p rog ram . T o attain
its goal o f in c o rp o ra tin g the large mass o f w orkers into its com prehensive
p ro le ta ria n c o u n te rc u ltu re , to c reate n e u e M en schen , it was fo rced to
deal with existing cu ltu ral practices o f th e w orking class. In c o n fro n tin g the
w ork ers w idespread c o n su m p tio n o f com m ercial cu ltu re, party publica
tions assum ed the sam e tutelary role they h a d p u rs u e d in c o n d e m n in g the
symbolic capitalist c o n te n t o f w ork ers h om es.47 But in the realm o f cu ltu re
th e to n e o f criticism was less vehem en t a b o u t how w orkers o u g h t to change,
a n d m o re realistic a b o u t th e stre n g th o f cultural bo n ds in th e w orkers
world. This does n o t m ean th at the party h a d n o d og m a o n the subject o f
e n te rta in m e n t; it seem ed, how ever, less certain that its d og m a could win it
th e converts it desired.
In this reg ard , it is in terestin g to follow the course o f th e socialists a rg u
m e n t in the pages o f Sozialistische Erziehung, a jo u r n a l addressed to youth
leaders a n d educators. In its sup p lem en t, Die-Praxis, leaders a n d Socialist
W o rk e r Y o u th (SAJ) m em b ers aired practical pro blem s o f the m ovem ent.
O n e o f th e first in a series o f com m en taries o n e n te rta in m e n t a ttem p ts to
draw a distinction betw een b ourgeois a n d pro le ta ria n form s.48 Bourgeois
e n te rta in m e n t is ch aracterized as u p h o ld in g the social o r d e r a n d as deflect
ing w orkers fro m th eir political a n d econom ic mission. T he fo rm o f p ro le
tarian e n te rta in m e n t, th e a rg u m e n t continues, is less im p o rta n t th a n its lim
its; it may include the C h arleston a n d Black B ottom as well as folk dances.
It is the in te n tio n a n d e x tent which d ifferentiate bo urgeois fro m pro letarian
form s. T h e f o rm e r is pleasure-seeking fo r its own sake; the la tter keeps
e n te rta in m e n t in b o u n d s as a fo rm o f rest a n d relaxation, so as to g ath er
new stre n g th fo r the serious w ork a n d struggles o f the m ovem ent.
This position is criticized in the following m o n th fo r speaking only a b ou t
the n e e d fo r socialist y o uth to keep e n te rta in m e n t within b o u n d s w ithout
d ealing with th e c o n ten ts o r bias o f e n te rta in m e n t.49 T he bourgeois e n te r
ta in m en t in du stry particularly th e P ra te r b u t also Variets a n d o p e re t
tas creates illusions to make working-class y o u th forget the class struggle
a n d the fact th a t th e social o r d e r can b e changed. D oes working-class youth
have th e right to waste its time, to relax? T he answ er is no. T he individual
has th e d uty to use his leisure tim e to read, learn, h a rd e n his body fo r strug
gle th ro u g h spo rt, a n d to p a rticip ate in p arty activities.
At th e suggestion o f th e editors, th e next c o n trib u to r re tu rn s to the sub
j e c t o f d a n c in g raised e arlier.50 She pictures the typical com m ercial dancing
school as a d e n o f eroticism: stale air, a small dance floor, closely pressed
bodies u n d u la tin g to music which inflames the senses, flirtations. But even
folk dances can be erotic, she admits. W hat distinguishes the latter from the
fo rm e r is a social a n d hygienic quality. In the magic circle o f the folk
d ance th e re are n o fixed p a rtn e rs a sense o f equality prevails. T he folk
d an ce is also distinguished by a healthy casualness o f dress in com parison to
the unhealthy dress codes o f u rb a n dan cing establishm ents, including

Worker Leisure: Commercial and Mass Culture

125

tightly fitting dresses, stiff collars, a n d ties. Socialist youth choose the folk
d an ce because it c o rre sp o n d s to th eir ideology o f freedom . But this claim is
d e n ie d by a n o th e r discussant w ho insists that folk dancing has failed to hold
the interest o f yo u th even in the SAJ, a n d th at com m ercial dan cing schools
are h e re to stay.51 I f th e party wants to attract pro le ta ria n youth, it m ust
c o m p ete with social d a ncing en te rta in m e n ts o f its own a n d use them as a
m eans o f agitation. Only th e n will it be able to ed u c a te those who come. A
su b seq u en t critic finds such views a n tiq u a te d a n d unrealistic.52 People are
a ttra c te d to th e SAJ because it provides conviviality: the opposite sex,
sports, a n d trips. F o r th e overw helm ing majority, conviction, c u rre n t poli
tics, a n d th e desire fo r know ledge a n d e d u catio n are th e last reasons for
jo in ing .
T h e final w ord is spoken by a party eld er who has little patience with the
am biguities a n d confusions o f the previous you ng discussants.53 H e rejects
the suggestion that d an cin g can be u sed as a m eans o f a ttracting the u n o r
ganized p ro le ta ria n youth, because social dancing simply can n ot be sepa
ra te d fro m its b ou rg eo is milieu: im m oral smoking, drinking, clothing
m ania, flirtatiousness, a n d m ock gallantry. The values o f abstinence from
sm oking a n d d rin k in g c en tral to the creation o f n e u e M ensch en can
n o t be c o m p ro m ise d even in building a mass organization. Besides, h e adds,
the SAJ could n ev er c o m p ete in a ttractin g seventeen-year-olds who have so
far kept th e ir distance fro m the party, by offering dancing cleansed o f its
b ou rgeo is detritus. Any atte m p t in that direction would n o t only fail b u t also
u n d e rm in e the existing cohesiveness o f SAJ y o uth a n d functionaries.
It com es as n o surprise th at the SDAP ex p ected a g reat deal from the
V iennese w orking masses in whose nam e it spoke. T h e som ew hat ragged dis
cussion above illustrates how the message o f self-denial h a d reach ed certain
echelons o f the SAJ. A t th e same tim e it suggests th a t th e n o rm al desire for
a leisure tim e o f jo y a n d pleasure am o n g the y o u n g c o n tin u e d to be associ
a te d with aspects o f th e p o p u la r culture. T he c on trad ictio n betw een an o u t
right co n d e m n a tio n o f com m ercial leisure, a n d y earning fo r the same on the
p a rt o f th e discussants, could n o t be resolved by the party leadership. It
seems that th e re was a g o o d deal o f wishful thinking in the belief th at the
socialist y o uth w ere such single-m inded a n d fu tu re -o rie n te d zealots as to
deny themselves pleasures outside those de e m e d to serve th e collective
g o o d .54 H e re , as in o th e r aspects o f th e socialists cultural p ro gram , th ere is
considerable ig n o ran ce o f b o th th e existing sociocultural c o n tex t in which
w orkers w ere socialized a n d o f the psychological m echanism s constituting
a n d shaping behavior. D espite the SD A Ps alleged a d h e re n c e to A lfred
A d le rs ego psychology, th e re is little evidence o f it, save a som ew hat vulgar
environm entalist behaviorism , in the p a rty s a p p ro a c h to the workers
them selves.55
T h e a p p lic a tio n o f p a rty d o g m a o n p o p u la r c u ltu re to y o u n g w o rk e rs
s t r u g g lin g w ith p r o b l e m s o f id e n tity a n d c a u g h t u p in t h e c o n f u s i n g d e s ire s
f o r c o n f o r m i t y a n d s e l f h o o d is b u t a n o t h e r e x a m p l e o f a p e r s i s t e n t s o c i a l i s t
in se n sitiv ity to t h e w o r k e r s as th e y really w e re . In a t t e m p t i n g to c o m b a t th e

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c o rru p tin g influence o f p o p u la r c ulture, the socialists stressed self-denial,


ab stention , a n d p o stp o n e m e n t o f gratification. In its place they o ffered reg
im e n te d collective experiences whose ability to substitu te fo r everything
else c o n tin u e d to be q u estio n ed even by those already in te g ra te d in the
m ovem ent. Simple d en un ciatio ns o f com m ercial c u ltu re w ithout a c o m p e n
sation fo r its social a n d psychological qualities was n o t very effective. Yet
w hen c o n fro n te d with the fa r g re a te r enticing pow ers o f mass culture,
socialist leaders could find n o o th e r response.

T h e C inem a: A D ream Factory?


O f th e m a jo r form s o f mass c u ltu re available a fter th e w ar film, radio,
sp e c ta to r sp o rts the film was clearly th e m ost p op u lar. In A ustria as in
o th e r co un tries, the n ascen t p rew ar film industry h a d developed rapidly
d u rin g th e war, w hen its pro p agan d istic possibilities were discovered and
ex plo ited .5,1A u strian film p ro d u c tio n re a c h e d its zenith in the expansionist
climate o f postw ar inflation. A t th a t tim e the p re d o m in a n t p ro d u c tio n c om
pany, Sascha-Film, fo u n d e d by A lex and er Kolowrat in 1918, was jo in e d by
m o re th a n a h a lf d o z e n o th e rs financed by various banks, a n d sizable film
studios w ere built. D u rin g this b rie f golden age o f th e V ienn ese/A u strian
film, an average o f forty films a year w ere p r o d u c e d ,57 including spectacles
involving h u g e a n d com plicated sets a n d casts o f h u n d re d s. A rem arkable
array o f talent was active in V ienna at this time, including th e directors
M ichael C urtiz (Kertesz), A lex an d er K orda, Fritz Lang, G. W. Pabst, O tto
P rem in g er, Billy W ilder, F re d Z innem ann, R o b e rt V iennae, an d Jacq u es
Feyder, as well as such actors as C o n ra d Veidt, W alter Slezak, Paul Lukcs,
Fritz K ortn er, M arlene D ietrich, G re ta G arbo, a n d P e te r L o rre , to m en tio n
b u t a few.
By 1925 econom ic stabilization had b ro u g h t a bo u t the virtual collapse
o f A u strian film p ro d u c tio n , with all m a jo r com panies except Sascha-Film
d isap pearing fro m th e scene, while directors, cam eram en, a n d actors left
fo r Berlin o r H ollyw ood, a n d the an n u a l n u m b e r o f films p ro d u c e d shrank
to n in e .58 T he stag n ation in dom estic film p ro d u c tio n c o n tin u e d fo r the next
decade, a n d th e d em an d s o f film d istrib uto rs a n d exhibitors w ere m et by
A m erican, G erm an , a n d o th e r fo reig n im po rts.59 N e ith e r th e in tro d u c tio n
o f im p o rt q u otas n o r th e lifting o f national censorship in 1926 succeeded
in significantly increasing the quantity o r im proving th e quality o f A ustrian
films.
T h e tro u b le d d evelo p m ent o f th e A ustrian film industry a n d its struggle
against foreign co m petition w ere n o t unique. E u ro p e a n cinem a o n the
whole u n d e rw e n t a similar crisis bu t, unlike the A ustrian, it recov ered to
p ro d u c e a distinct a n d internationally m arketable film.60 In retro sp ect, it is
difficult to explain why film p ro d u c tio n in A ustria declined to sh eer m edi
ocrity. T h e collapse o f m ajo r com panies left a vacuum into which the large
n u m b e r o f tale n te d resident cineasts might have moved. That is exactly what

Worker Leisure: Commercial and Mass Culture

127

h a p p e n e d in France, w h ere many films w ere c re a te d as single collective


efforts, w here financing h a d to be im provised imaginatively, a n d w here the
talen t which fled in th e m id-1920s was e n c o u ra g e d to re tu rn . Actually, the
possibilities fo r c re a tin g artistic films with a serious social c o n te n t should
have been g re a te r in A ustria th a n in France. Both the SDAP an d the trad e
u n io n s w ere eng ag ed in developing a n d s u p p o rtin g a working-class culture;
in F ran ce th e re was n o such d evelopm ent and possibility fo r s u p p o rt.61
As we shall see later, th e A ustrian socialist lead ers attitu d e tow ard film
ra n g e d fro m am biguous to negative. T o a large ex te n t th e y ju d g e d this new
m ed ium with th e yardstick o f the old, elite cultu re in which they had been
raised (see c h a p te r 4) a n d re g a rd e d it as th e newest a n d m ost th re a te n in g
fo rm o f ch eap e n te rta in m e n t. T o say that the socialists, in neglecting the
p r o d u c tio n o f films, missed an o p p o rtu n ity to stre n g th e n th eir own cultural
p ro g ra m by a ttu n in g it to p o p u la r tastes is n o t to minimize the serious obsta
cles which w ould have b e e n faced a n d the risk involved.112
T h e h ealth o f the A u strian film industry did n o t affect the size o f the
au d ien ce which flocked to see films n o t only fo r th eir c o n te n t but as tech
nical a n d artistic novelties. By the e n d o f the war th e re w ere already many
movie th eaters in V ienna, an d th eir n u m b e r, seating capacity, and fre
quency o f p e rfo rm a n c e grew at a rem arkable pace in th e following decade
a n d a half.63 T h e following table com pares th re e years fo r which the m ost
reliable in fo rm atio n a b o u t movie th e a te r admissions in V ienna is available.64

1926
1928
1933

Yearly

Weekly

Daily

1 2 .4 2 m illio n
2 9 .3 9 m illio n
2 8 .0 3 m illio n

2 3 8 ,8 4 6
5 6 5 ,2 3 4
5 3 9 ,1 6 3

3 4 ,1 2 0
8 0 ,7 4 7
7 7 ,0 2 3

By 1926, which was an off year because o f the reorganization o f the film
industry, th e re w ere already 170 movie th eaters in V ienna, 160 o f which had
daily showings. By 1933 the n u m b e r o f th eaters h a d grow n to 179, with 99
p e rc e n t show ing so u n d films, a n d 7 with over 1,000 seats. As the above fig
u res re p re se n t averages o n a weekly a n d daily basis, certain co rrectio ns must
be m ade so as to arrive at a tte n d a n c e o n days w hen V iennese w orkers were
at leisure. A cco rdin g to th e a te r ow ners an d m anagers, the m ost p o p u la r
days w ere S aturday a n d Sunday, followed by Friday a n d M onday, with a
sh a rp d r o p in ticket sales in midweek. A ttend ance was re d u c e d in general
d u rin g th e five w arm -w eather m o n th s.65 I f we adjust the above figures in the
light o f this in fo rm atio n, th e n u m b e r o f w eekend admissions would m ore
than do u b le the daily averages, yielding a total o f 35 0 ,0 00 filmgoers.
By w hatever yardstick we use 5 6 0,00 0 weekly filmgoers o r 3 50,000 on
w eekends th e film h a d b ecom e th e m ost p o p u la r e n te rta in m e n t am o n g
th e V iennese by th e late 1920s. H ow m any o f these w ere workers? U n fo r
tunately, the official film statistics lack the necessary refinem ent, and an
answ er can be given only by ap proxim ation. Accordingly, if we use SDAP

12 8

Red Vienna

a n d tra d e un io n m em b ersh ip as well as the social com position o f the SDAP


as a fram e o f referen ce, a b o u t 50 p e rc e n t o f weekly film audiences
(280,000) a n d 60 p e rc e n t o f w eekend filmgoers (210,000) w ere w orkers.
W hat m ade the film such a p o p u la r fo rm o f e n te rta in m e n t? h7 A study o f
V iennese th e a te r a n d film audiences co n d u c te d in 1936 throw s som e light
o n this subject.68 T h e ch eap adm ission price a n d inform ality were m e n
tio n e d by an overw helm ing m ajority o f moviegoers. T h e re was a m arked
p re fe re n c e fo r sentim ental filmscripts with m elodram atic obstacles leading
to a Hollywood-style happ y e n d . A tte n d a n c e in the com pany o f o thers
was p re fe rre d , because it h eig h te n e d th e ex perience and, in th e presence o f
th e op po site sex in th e d a rk e n e d th eater, a ro u se d erotic feelings. For
y o u n g e r viewers the film provided an o p p o rtu n ity to widen th eir h orizons,
in tro d u c in g th em to strange new worlds. M ore m a tu re viewers sought relax
ation. T he choice o f films by working-class viewers was strongly influenced
by advertising; com edies w ere p o p u lar; educational subjects w ithout plot
w ere sh u nn ed; music a n d favorite actors w ere sought after; a n d the plot as
well as its plausibility w ere o f relative u n im p o rtan ce.
T h e yo ung w ere th e m ost co m m itted film viewers, as a study o f 1933
d em o n stra te s.69 M ore than 95 p e rc e n t o f the 10,000 surveyed w ere e n th u
siastic, with working-class children ran kin g highest in positive responses. In
Vienna, movie th e a te r a tte n d a n c e o f these increased steadily with age: 8 13-year-olds a tte n d e d at least two times a m o n th ; nearly 40 p e rc e n t o f 1 4 16-year-olds a tte n d e d 4 to 7 times a m o n th ; and nearly 8 p e rc e n t o f the lat
te r g ro u p a tte n d e d m o re th a n 8 times. Interestingly, frequency o f a tte n
d ance by ch ild ren o f th e unem p loy ed was n o t re d u c e d .70 M ore th a n h a lf the
working-class c h ildren w ent to the movies with friends; the rest divide
equally betw een those going alone a n d those going with p a re n ts a n d o th e r
adults. T h e reasons given fo r liking films w ere n o t to o different from those
o f adults: films were e n tertainin g, educational, cheap, exciting, rom antic,
realistic, offered actors as role models, p re se n te d the w orld o f now.
W hat are we to make o f the fact th at Viennese w orkers, y o ung a n d adult,
flocked to th e movies; that they p re fe rre d comedies, excitem ent, a n d happy
ends; th a t they chose films on the basis o f actors r a th e r th a n plots; a n d that
the plausibility o f th e screenplay was o f little im p o rtan ce to them? Was the
nearly u n a n im o u s ju d g m e n t o f socialist ed u cato rs, c u ltu re experts, a n d crit
ics c o rre c t in re g a rd in g films as an o piate o f the working class, created by
capitalism to seduce w orkers fro m th eir tru e goal? Virtually from its begin
nings dow n to th e p resen t, the film industry has be e n characterized as a
d re a m factory creatin g illusions in place o f reality.71 Is it w rong to have
d re a m s o r to sh are in them ? D o n t o th e r form s o f e n te rta in m e n t and art also
p re se n t illusions a n d special perspectives on reality? T he socialists never
asked themselves these questions o r a tte m p te d to answ er them . They viewed
film as a d e g e n e ra te art fo rm ju dg ed by th e yardstick o f linear elite cu ltu re
(mainly d ra m a a n d th e novel).
W h a t m a y w ell h a v e d r a w n t h e w o r k e r s t o t h e c i n e m a , in a d d i t i o n t o t h e
n e e d t o r e l a x a n d s o c i a l i z e in i n f o r m a l s u r r o u n d i n g s , o r e v e n t h e n e e d t o

Worker Leisure: Commercial and Mass Culture

escape fro m th e e v er-p resen t reality o f th eir ong o in g struggle in ilio work
place a n d dom estic sp here, was the ability o f film to in c o rp o ra te and even
surpass the m o re traditional a n d still c o nsu m ed form s o f comm ercial <111
ture: m o re spectacular rep re se n ta tio n s o f exotic places and people, sliai pei
images o f daily life, a g re a te r immediacy o f feeling, and a b ro a d e r scope Idi
em pathy than the circus o r Variet could provide. W hat may have sed uced "
w orkers to pay f re q u e n t visits to the cinem a is a new kind o f seeing, and laici
seeing a n d hearing, which allowed them to perceive the subjects o f onlei
ta in m en t in a new and dynam ic way. Even bad a n d trivial films contained
th a t novel charm , which may well acco u n t fo r the success o f some o f the
m ost soporific examples.
But even the very best exam ples o f cinem atic art, with the greatest co m
plexity a n d suggestiveness, such as D erblaueEngel, could be enjoyed in some
o f its dim ensions by w orkers with u nsophisticated taste. T h e same was not
tr u e fo r exam ples o f elite art, such as T hom as M a n n s novel The Mage
M ountain, whose prolix style a n d com plicated p lo tting preclu d ed the pos
sibility o f being enjoyed on a sim pler level. T he visual dynamics o f lilm.
allowing fo r grow th o f p e rc e p tio n with experience, lent a democratic aspect
to cinem a which very few co n te m p o ra rie s were able to a pp reciate.7'
Was the quality o f films viewed by Viennese w orkers really as bad as
socialist critics m ad e it o u t to be? Was it really an ocean o f kitsch in which
an occasional p earl cam e to light? It is well to re m e m b e r that th e re is a wide
sp e c tru m o f quality in all a rt a n d e n te rta in m e n t forms. It is rem arkable that
hardly any o f the c in e m a s m ost o u tsp o k e n critics ever asked how many o f
th e plays b ro k e re d by the Kunststelle o r th e n u m e ro u s books serialized in
socialist publications were kitsch as they d efined it.
A b o u t 400 to 500 films were exhibited in Viennese cinemas each year.7:1
O f these, n o d o u b t, th e m ajority w ere o f limited artistic o r intellectual
m e rit light com edies, historical pageants, musicals, adventures in bizarre
settings, p edestrian tragedies, a n d tales o f m iraculous salvation o r success
m ost o fte n routinely b u t som etim es well crafted, fe a tu rin g well-known stars
a n d negligible screenplays which freq u ently c o n tain ed imaginative scenes.
S om e 20 p e rc e n t p e rh a p s w ere dow nright kitsch ren ditio n s o f the "fallen
w o m e n , the c h arm in g crow n p rin c e , happ y p easan ts, flowers o f the
h a re m , a n d ju n g le a d v e n tu re s generally o f low technical qualiiy and
g e a re d to diverting the m ost passive viewers.
T h e weekly diet o f the film public, however, was e n rich ed by the best
films on the in te rn a tio n a l m arket at the time, a n d they w ere frequently being
show n at ten o r m o re th e a te rs at once. A very incom plete sam pling o f these
w ould include Anna Christie, Der letzte M ann, Sacco und Vanzetti, Metropolis,
Berlin Alexanderplatz, Em il m id die Detektive, (Wand Hotel, The Hunchback oj
Notre Dame, M arius, Resurrection, A n American Tragedy, Charley's Aunt, Cas,
Der H auptmann von Kopenick, Huckleberry Finn, Kameradschaft, A nous la lib
ert, a n d Twenty-Four Hours. T h e mix in quality o f films shown in Vienna
a p p e a rs to have been a b o u t the same as in Berlin, Paris, L on d on , an d New
York.74 A look at I he films with the- leading box oil ice sale's for I OiO/l (.)31

130

Red Vienna

confirm s th e d istrib u tio n o f quality films available to V iennese filmgoers.


A m on g th e twelve films with the largest ticket sales w ere Dreyfus, Der blaue
Engel, a n d Atlantic.75
D om estic a n d im p o rte d expressionist spectacles a n d fantasies (Sodom
und Gemorrha, Die Sklavenknigin, Das Kabinett des Doktor Caligari, Der
Golem) w ere d o m in a n t d u rin g the postw ar inflationary period. W ith the
r e tu r n to econom ic stability, such flights o f fancy gave way to m o re sober
subjects a n d form s o f p resen tatio n . This search fo r a new sobriety and
objectivity, called n e u e Sachlichkeit, origin ated in p ain tin g a n d literatu re
b u t was quickly a d o p te d by o th e r arts including film.7,1T h e re to o it took the
form o f a search fo r th e plague spots a n d social problem s o f society exposed
th ro u g h an intensified realism th at threw the d ark side o f c o n te m p o ra ry life
into sh a rp focus. T h e evils an d tem p tation s o f the city, especially licentious
ness, w ere a ru n n in g th re a d th ro u g h m any films o f the mid- to late 1920s.
T he form u la on which such films as Caf Elektric (1927) a n d Gefhrdete
Mdchen (1928) were based included a p re se n ta tio n o f the sinful te m p ta
tions o f th e city, which plunge the individual fro m the g oo d life in to an abyss
o f deg eneracy from which only a p u re love brings rescue. ' ' Political subjects
as well (Oberst Redl, 1925, a n d Die Brandstifter Europas, 1926) took the form
o f exposs, b u t w ithout sentim ental endings. T h e b lend ing o f serious social
subjects with erotic rep re se n ta tio n s particularly a ro u se d the ire o f socialist
c u ltu re experts, fo r w hom they epitom ized n o t only the kitsch o f capitalist
film p ro d u c tio n , b u t also the d a n g e r to the w orking class a n d its youth o f
b ein g m a n ipu lated a n d c o rru p te d .
T h e p o pu larity o f film as an e n te rta in m e n t form with a potential for
influencing the masses o f w orkers was recognized in socialist publications
in th e first postw ar years. But film was a mass p ro d u c t o f capitalism a n d as
such, by definition, o f p o o r quality, a rou sin g the publics w orst instincts,
w asting its time, tra d in g in ch eap illusions, a n d ro b b in g it o f h a rd -e a rn e d
money. T h e SDAP w ould have to interced e, to tu r n the cinem a into an insti
tu tio n o f e n lig h te n m e n t a n d go o d e n te rta in m e n t.78 T hese early jou rnalistic
in terv en tio ns su ffered fro m th e am biguity o f recognizing the im p o rta n c e o f
film in general while d e n o u n c in g films specifically as worthless trash. At the
time, film c o m m en taries w ere w ritten by th e a te r critics a n d fe a tu re w riters,
who ju d g e d films with th e yardstick o f high culture.
C o n d e m n a tio n b ro u g h t th e socialists n o closer to gaining any influence
over th e films viewed by the w orkers. In 1924 a cinem a co nfe re n c e was ini
tiated by th e municipality in the h o p e o f developing a p ro g ra m fo r film
re fo rm .70 T h e re , socialist party fun ctio naries an d cineasts clashed o n a vari
ety o f subjects. T h e suggestion th at the s o u n d film w ould one day surpass
the silent in im p o rta n c e was dismissed o u t o f hand. If that happ ens, a party
sp eaker replied, film would b ecom e n o th in g m o re than an in fe rio r substi
tu te fo r th e a te r an d o pera. T h a t the pictorial aspects o f film should receive
m o re atte n tio n and the literary qualities be deem phasized was tre a te d as
pass, even th o u g h th e socialist w riters o f film criticism present practiced
just th e ap p osite. Fritz L an g s suggestion that it was the function o f film to

Worker Leisure: Commercial and Mass Culture

131

rep lace th e a te r a n d o p e ra was answ ered with the derisive rem ark that the
ability o f d irecto rs to exercise artistic ju d g m e n t was questionable. N o r was
Bela Balazs sp a re d w hen he d e m a n d e d th at critics focus th eir a tten tio n o n
th e visual. Until films b ecom e tru e art, plots will con tin u e to be the critics
m ain interest, he was told.
A lthough th e c o n fe re n c e exposed the fu n dam ental difference betw een
cinem a p ractitio n ers a n d socialist critics a n d functionaries, it did m ark a
w atersh ed in the SD A Ps actual intervention. It had b een suggested earlier
th a t th e party create a viewers organization, p ro d u c e its own films, an d
establish a leasing com pany, all o f which could assure th at films would be
m ade a n d shown that c o rre sp o n d e d to the p a rty s aims.80 Plans w ere set in
m otion to realize the last o f these proposals. But the c o n feren ce did not
greatly alte r the te n o r o r im prove the quality o f film reviews.
A lth o ug h Die Arbeiter-Zeitung an d Bildungsarbeit b egan to carry reg u lar
reviews in 1924, a n d Das kleine Blatt and o th e r socialist publications fol
lowed suit late in the decade, films co n tin u e d to be ju d g e d o n th eir literary
m erits above all. O n e leafs in vain th ro u g h the weekly colum n o f Fritz
R osenfeld, th e socialists best reviewer, in search o f a deviation from p o tte d
reviews that use pejoratives to ju d g e films o n the basis o f their c o n ten t, with
g ru d g in g asides a b o u t g o o d acting o r w ell-rendered scenery.81 T he cinem a
as a visual ex p erien ce, as a distinct a rt fo rm p re se n t even in average films, is
missing o r at best m e a su re d against the deficiencies o f the plot. Only in the
Soviet film, b ro u g h t to V ienna at the behest o f d istribu tors an d th e a te r ow n
ers, does R osenfeld co m bin e aesthetics a n d c o n te n t in lauditory reviews.82
Even th e best films o f the p e rio d are c o m p a re d unfavorably to the lit
e r a tu r e on which they are based. Der blaue Engel is a case in point. J o h a n n
H irsch, in a long review fo r Das kleine Blatt, th e widest-read socialist daily,
c o n sid e re d the film a d e g ra d e d version o f H ein rich M a n n s novel.83 T he
right-w ing views o f A lfred H u g e n b e rg (ow ner o f UFA) h a d prevailed,
H irsch charged, in re d u c in g the novels critical sharpness. A lthough he
praises th e cinem atic force o f th e film, he entirely misses the sadom asoch
istic d estru c tio n o f the central ch aracter, re p re se n tin g a way o f life; th e pres
ence o f o bservant b u t passive bystanders d u rin g acts o f brutality; an d the
wolf-pack c h a ra c te r o f th e y o u n g students-all o f which reflected reality in
W eim ar G erm any far b e tte r th a n th e novels attack o n auth oritarian ism in
im perial G erm any. H irsch simply fails to see, o r discounts, these new d im en
sions. H e c oncludes th a t o n e will be able to see this film with pleasure, a d d
ing: B ut o n e will benefit intellectually only afterw ard w hen on e reads Pro
fessor Unrat, th e novel o f H ein rich M ann . . . a n d learns fro m it w hat aspects
o f G erm an lite ra tu re may be in clu d ed in the G erm an film a n d what the mas
ters o f the film industry ex clu d e.
W hile socialist film reviewing a p p e a re d to be stuck in a predictable
groove, a lively exposition o f fu n d am en tal problem s c o n c e rn in g the work
ing classs a p p ro a c h to cinem a a p p e a re d in leading publications Der
Jugendliche Arbeiter, Bildungsarbeit, Der Karnpf a n d was aired on the radio.
A d om inan t th em e o f this discussion, re p e a te d year a lte r year by the SD A Ps

film ex p e rt R osenberg, was ilie imm ense pow er <>l film as e n te rta in m e n t in
com p ariso n to books, theaters, and o th e r cultural forms. lint films re p r e
sen ted the values o f th e bourgeoisie a n d used subtle m eans to make w ork
ing-class audiences believe in the imm utability o f the p re se n t social o rd e r.
T h e first step in tu rn in g the film into a w eapon o f the w orking class was to
demystify it by exposing its class bias.84
T h e q u estio n was how? If the w orkers escaped from the hardships o f
daily life in to th e c in em as make-believe w orld o f class deception , what steps
sh o uld th e SDAP take to alter th a t to b rin g its own cultural politics to
bear?85 Logically, the party ou g h t to p ro d u c e films o f its own b u t, Rosenfeld
insisted, th at was impossible because o f the cost. H e arg u ed that co n tro l o f
movie th e a te rs a n d, th ro u g h them , o f distrib u tio n was feasible. Such social
ist cinem as could draw u p o n G erm an socialist films, Russian films, an d artis
tic films o n the in tern ation al m arket to provide a rich diet fo r proletarian
audiences. T h e profits fro m such an e n te rp rise could be used in c o n ju n c
tion with similar socialist cinem a chains in o th e r cou n tries to create an in te r
n ational socialist p ro d u c tio n com pany w hose films would have a so u n d and
secu re m arket in th e cinem a chains.86
R osen feld s p ro p osal was imaginative a n d far-reaching; fu rth e rm o re , as
we shall see, som e practical steps in th a t directio n h a d already be e n taken
by the party. Rosenfeld failed to m en tio n that the difficulties in establishing
a socialist film policy stem m ed fro m differences betw een a small g ro u p o f
yo un g er, m o re politically d a rin g fun ctio n aries o f th e Bildungszentrale,
struggling to c reate the SD A Ps cultural p ro gram , a n d the o lder, m o re cau
tious party leaders who held the pu rse strings. T h e conflict was fought out
b e h in d th e scenes; w hen it surfaced fro m time to time, it revealed how
divided the perc e p tio n s re g a rd in g the po tential o f film really were.
An article by a youn g B ildungszentrale functionary, fo r example,
accused th e party o f no t having re sp o n d e d sufficiently to the p o tential o f
film.87 F o r th e y o u n g e r g en e ra tio n th e tu rb u le n c e o f the war a n d postw ar
w orld was c a p tu re d by the film an d n eglected by the theater. T h e film was
n o t only developing in to a worthy art fo rm b u t also becom ing the perfect
reflection o f th e ra p id te m p o o f co n te m p o ra ry life, a n d th us o f the ex p e ri
ence o f th e masses. Party leaders, h e charg ed , who w ere socialized thirty
years ago, clung to th e a te r a n d c o n c e rt hall as th e pillars o f c u ltu re an d
looked dow n o n film, by which they felt th re a te n e d , as a d eg ra d in g com
mercial p ro d u c t. Until now, he con cluded, the p a rty s a p p ro a c h to the film
h a d b e e n half-hearted; th e tim e had com e to u n d e rta k e th e struggle fo r an
A ustrian socialist film.88
It is difficult to explain th e c o n tin u e d d e m a n d until 1933 by socialist film
critics a n d m em bers o f the B ildungszentrale that the SDAP intervene in the
d istrib u tio n a n d exhibition o f films, w hen th e party h a d initiated ju s t such
a pro g ram . O n e can only c o nclud e th at these persisten t critical voices w ere
d ire c te d at the p a rty s efforts themselves. H ow far had the party gone in
seeking to influence com m ercial film viewed by working-class audiences,
a n d w hat o p p o rtu n itie s h a d it missed?

T h e Viennese party leadership com m issioned several elec tion campaign


films as early as 1923.H T h e ex p erim en t proved so successful that additional
films w ere p ro d u c e d f o r the election o f 1927. T hese were exhibited in partyo w n ed th e a te rs as well as a n u m b e r o f o th ers re n te d specifically fo r special
showings. An o p en -air p ro je c tio n in the N aschm arkt (central market) was
said to have reach ed an audien ce o f 10,000.'" In 1930 th e party began the
p ro d u c tio n a n d d istribu tio n o f eight-m illim eter films, which could be shown
anyw here a simple screen could be m o u nted. All these films had an ed u ca
tional aim and pro pag an distic focus on such subjects as May Day celebra
tions, th e accom plishm ents o f th e socialist m unicipal adm inistration, an d
the working-class O lympics o f 1931. Lest only the already converted be
reach ed , th e p arty also e n te re d the a re n a o f com m ercial e n te rta in m e n t
films.
In May 1926 the Kino-Betriebsgesellschaft m .b.H (Kiba) was fo u n d e d
by the A rb e ite rb a n k 91 with the blessing o f the SDAP secretary R obert Danneb erg , the city councillor fo r finances H u g o Breitner, a n d the socialist
m ayor Karl Seitz.92 T h e in te n d e d p u rp o se o f Kiba was to organize and
increase socialist movie th eaters a n d to supply th em with worthy films. T he
tim e f o r such an e n te rp rise was propitious, because a new Viennese cinem a
law taking effect th at year, recalling all fo rm e r th e a te r licenses an d issuing
new ones, m ad e it possible fo r Kiba to buy o r lease additional theaters.
D espite this u n iq u e o p p o rtu n ity , n e ith e r the A rbeiterban k n o r th e party
leaders show ed m u ch interest in exp an sio n .93
O nly a year later, w hen the b ro th e rs E d m u n d an d Philip H a m b e r, ow n
ers o f the p ro d u c tio n /e x h ib itio n firm O ela a n d the distribution com pany
Allianz, b egan to take a leading role in Kiba, did it begin to grow .94 As m an
ag e r o f Kiba, E d m u n d H a m b e r co n v erted five movie houses into first-run
so u n d theaters. By 1931 Kiba m anaged nine theaters in Vienna; by 1932,
twelve. Beginning in 1930, this expansion was c o u p led with profits sufficient
to cover Kibas losses d u rin g its first th re e years. T he am bitions o f the H a m
b e r b ro th e rs w ent m u c h fu rth e r. In 1930 th e ir Allianz a n d two fu rth e r dis
trib u tio n firms w ere associated with Kiba, which also p u rch ased th e e x te n
sive Vita film studio at the e n d o f 1 9 3 1.95 T h e following y ear th e H am b ers
e n g aged in a public controversy with B re itn e r over th e increase o f luxury
taxes f o r Kiba th e a te rs.96 A n appeal by th e H am b ers to th e party leadership
fell on d e a f ears, a n d a personal scandal involving th e b ro th e rs served as
g r o u n d fo r th eir dismissal. In view o f Kibas overextension, particularly
th ro u g h th e purch ase o f the Vita studio, an d a general loss o f confidence,
b o th the A rb eiterb an k a n d party leadership were anxious to get rid o f Kiba.
N egotiations w ere be g u n with a n u m b e r o f prospective buyers, principal o f
w hich was UFA, the b te n o ire o f socialist criticism o f reactionary capitalist
film politics. But Kiba rem ain ed , unsold, only to m eet th e fate o f o th e r party
ente rp rise s a fter F eb ru ary 1934.
As a business Kiba was rem arkably successful. By 1932 the H a m b e r
b ro th e rs had tu rn e d a simple movie th e a te r association into a com plex th e
a te r chain a n d d istrib ution e n te rp rise which supplied 15 p e rc e n t o f V ien

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nese cinemas with films.97 Did the quality o f films d istrib u ted a n d shown by
Kiba reflect the long-expressed aim o f the SDAP fo r a socially conscious film
as an a n tid o te to the typical illusions o f the capitalist d re a m factory? They
did not. F ro m the b e g in nin g E d m u n d H a m b e r retain ed co n tro l over film
program m ing, an d his only c o n c e rn was to show a profit. From the late
1920s on, m em bers o f the B ildungszentrale a n d socialist film critics com
plained a b o u t Kibas unsocialist a n d antisocialist program m ing. Rosenfeld
particularly lam basted the Kiba m an ag em en t fo r exhibiting films in its th e
aters far w orse m o re reactionary, m o re trivial, a n d less artistic th an
could be fo u n d in com m ercial th e a te rs.98 E d m u n d H a m b e r d e fe n d e d his
p rog ram m ing policy b e fo re the SDAP executive: the V iennese public was
n o t interested in political films; Russian films played to smaller audiences;
the middle-class film audience in th eaters supplied by Kiba h a d to be taken
into consideration as well as the w orkers. A pparently, the party executive
agreed with H a m b e r.99Julius D eutsch was sent to make it clear to Rosenfeld
how m uch m oney was at stake; film criticism o f Kiba p rog ram s in Die Arbeiter-Zeitung was p u t into o th e r h a n d s .100
Kiba was a com m erical success to the end; as a socialist cultural e x peri
m ent it was a failure fro m the beginning. In 1925 th e Bildungszentrale had
p etitio n ed the party executive to create a V olks-Kino-Verband, an associa
tion o f all the socialist-owned a n d c o n tro lled theaters, with an eye tow ard
im proved block program m in g , only to b e told th at the u n d e rta k in g was too
risky. R osenfelds suggestion th at an association o f working-class film view
ers be fo rm e d also failed to get serious consideration. A nd the o p p o rtu n ity
to buy o r lease additional theaters, m ade possible by the cinem a law o f 1926,
was allowed to pass, as was the possibility o f co o p e ra tin g in film p ro d u c tio n
with the G erm an P ro m e th e u s co m p any .101 In stead the SDAP executive,
socialist municipal officials, trad e unions, a n d the A rb eiterb an k gam bled on
the creation o f Kiba. H aving tu rn e d dow n all o th e r suggestions fo r im ple
m en tin g a socialist film policy as to o risky, they took the biggest risk o f all
by p u ttin g themselves into the han d s o f the H a m b e r b ro th e rs, two skillful
practition ers in a new, volatile, a n d ruthless ind u stry .102
T h e failure o f Kiba to b rin g a socialist influence to b e a r o n the mass
m edia revealed a fu n d a m e n ta l split betw een functionaries o f th e Bildung
szentrale, who w anted th e distrib ution a n d exhibition o f films to reflect the
p a rty s d e m a n d fo r socially relevant a n d artistically well-made films, and
party bosses in the executive a n d m unicipal g ov ern m en t, who w ere c o n ten t
with com m ercial success. T he socialist notables were tra p p e d by the n arrow
ness o f th e ir cultural perspective. O n the o n e hand, they w anted to raise
films to the level o f elite culture; o n the o th e r, they w anted it to be func
tional to ed u cate the w orkers a n d aid th em in th e ong o in g class strug
gle.103 Film m ade th em u n co m fo rtab le. Its novelty and experim ental
aspects, its lack o f a long a n d venerable tradition, m ade it as unreliable as
m o d e rn art in the eyes o f party doyens, w ho clung to the established elite
cultu re they had b een taught to respect.
T h e s o c i a l i s t s w e r e n o t a l o n e in f a i l i n g l o u n d e r s t a n d t h e u n i q u e q u a l i

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ties o f film as an a rt fo rm a n d mass e n te rta in m e n t.104 They seem ed to have


c o m p re h e n d e d its m agnetic attra c tio n o f audiences, particularly o f w ork
ers, a n d its ability to c o m p ete with a n d surpass o th e r form s o f com m ercial
culture. Q u ite correctly, they saw it as a d an g ero u s co m p e tito r to their p ro j
ect to c reate n e u e M en schen , in that it kept w orkers away from the p a rty s
p la n n e d p ro g ra m s a n d distracted them from participating in the class stru g
gle in th eir leisure time. They, like virtually everyone else, u n d erestim ated
the attractiveness o f films as very special visual an d aural en tertainm en ts.
T h e ir ju d g m e n t o f th e film as a p seudoliterary m edium o f banal them es and
illogical plots simply m issed its pow er to stim ulate the im agination th ro u g h
immediacy, discontinuities, m otion, superim position, simultaneity, and
a b ru p t transitions. All these special qualities belonged to a new realm o f
e n te rta in m e n t which d id n o t abide by the classical canons the socialists were
accu sto m ed to, a n d by which th e y ju d g e d and h o p e d to tra n sfo rm what they
c o n sid e re d m e re kitsch.
It would be u n fa ir to castigate the socialist leaders fo r failing to be avantg a rd e in th e ir a p p reciatio n o f film. (Their choice o f arch ite c tu re fo r m unic
ipal ho u sin g signaled th e ir limited to leran ce fo r artistic innovation.) But
th eir lim ited insight into w orkers lives a n d need s is a n o th e r m atter. It seems
to have o c c u rre d to n o n e o f them th at the p a rty s cultural p ro g ra m was
politically o verloading the w orkers, providing th em with a diet o f com m it
m e n t which m ade n o allowance fo r o th e r hu m a n needs. Since the SDAP
looked dow n u p o n pleasure fo r its own sake as baggage to be shed on the
way to n e u e M en sch en , th e w orkers, who still very m uch n e e d e d such
pleasure, tu rn e d to mass c u ltu re w here it was to be fo u n d in the m ark et
place. O n e c a n n o t help b u t rem ark certain similarities betw een the social
ists functionalist a p p ro a c h to leisure an d cinem a in p articu lar the denial
o f pleasure fo r its own sake a n d the position o f the Catholic ch u rch on
that subject. By a n d large th e ch u rc h tre a te d cinem a as a c o r r u p to r o f m o r
als, a n d films as the purveyors o f im m oral kitsch. It sought to p ro te c t the
faithful from such c o rru p tio n by publishing lists o f appro ved films suitable
fo r Catholic film goers.105

R adio: P u lp it o f th e P eo p le?
F ro m its origins as a mass m ed iu m in A ustria, radio was a public en te rp rise
p roviding e n te rta in m e n t a n d in fo rm ation but w ithout the com m ercial
im perative o f o th e r mass cultural fo rm s.106 Unlike the privately ow ned film
industry, whose m arket was intern ation al, radio was largely aim ed at the
national public. T hat lim ited focus, to g e th e r with ra d io s u n iq u e ability to
p e n e tra te the private sp h e re o f a grow ing listening public, m ade it part o f
th e political b a ttle g ro u n d betw een th e socialists an d th eir Christian Social
a n d o th e r political o p p o n e n ts. As we shall see, the socialists single-m inded
c o n c e rn with the c o n te n t o f radio p ro g ra m m in g as part o f the K ulturkam pf led them to overlook the special qualities o f radio to e n tertain

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th ro u g h distraction. C onsequently, they overestim ated the kind o f c u ltu ra l/


e d ucational im pact they m ight achieve, because they viewed th e workingclass listener as passive a n d malleable in e ith e r a g o od o r a b a d direction.
R adio as a mass m edium b egan with the constitution o f Ravag ( ster
reichische R adio-V erkehrs A.C.) in 1924 as a m ixed public a n d private
e n te rp rise com prising the national go vern m ent, th e Viennese m unicipal
g ov ernm en t, a bank, a n d several industrial co m p an ies.107 In the n egotia
tions leading u p to th e fo u n d in g o f Ravag, the SDAP a n d C hancellor Ignaz
Seipel h a d com e to an a g re e m e n t w hereby th e do m in an ce o f any political
party was to be avoided. In d e e d , th e socialists h a d on e o u t o f five seats on
the executive com m ittee, by which only u n an im o u s decisions could be
taken, a n d am ple re p re se n ta tio n o n th e advisory council (seven o u t o f
twenty-four) which supervised b u t d id n o t co n tro l the p ro g ra m m in g .108
Even so, as actual practice soon d e m o n stra te d , th e socialists w ere o u tn u m
b e re d o n the p ro g ra m subcom m ittee (two o u t o f six) by a coalition o f c o n
servative o p p o n e n ts. M oreover, Ravag was m anaged by A n to n Rintelen,
g o v e rn o r o f th e province o f S teierm ark an d p resid en t o f th e Steirerbank,
serving as R avags presid en t, a n d by O sk ar Czeija, a su b o rd in ate o f Rintetfn,
serving as d irector. T hese m e n viewed radio as an industry like any o th e r
a n d w ere c o n c e rn e d with the profits to be gained fro m th e listeners fees o f
a grow ing audience. They w ere certainly o u t o f tu n e with the socialists e d u
cational in tention s o n business a n d ideological g ro u n d s.109 T he same may be
said f o r th e various p ro g ra m head s music, literatu re, lecture a n d science,
news whose antisocialist o rie n ta tio n was never in d o u b t.110
T h e stru c tu re o f Ravag, in which the socialists m ain tain ed a veto pow er
o n th e executive co m m ittee b u t th e ir o p p o n e n ts held co n tro l over the
im p lem en tin g positions, was n o t auspicious fo r elevating the cultu re o f
w orkers by providing th e m with social a n d political in form atio n a n d th e best
in elite art. In all the later socialist criticism o f Ravags p rog ram m in g , no
m e n tio n was m ade o f two principal concessions which th e SDAP h a d agreed
to in th e initial negotiations. T he first was to exclude all political, religious,
a n d sexual subjects in the in terest o f n e u tr a l p ro g ra m m in g .111 T h e second
m ade th e natio nal news service th e only so urce o f th e twice-a-day news
broadcasts. In th e first th re e years o f o p eratio n , Ravag abided by the n e u
trality a g re e m e n t above a n d te n d e d to p re se n t bland in form ation (crime,
w eather, stock m arket, sports) to the exclusion o f anything controversial.112
But th e po te n tia l f o r a slanted politicized news re m a in e d in th e han d s o f the
SD A Ps o p p o n e n ts, who d o m in a te d th e national go vern m en t th ro u g h o u t
th e period.
T hese early skirmishes as well as la te r struggles f o r co n tro l o f Ravag had
little im pact o n the enthusiasm o f the A ustrian public fo r this technological
marvel, which b ro u g h t e n te rta in m e n t directly to th eir hom es. T h e n u m b e r
o f licensed listeners so ared from 83,00 0 at the e n d o f the first year to
5 0 8 ,0 0 0 in 1 9 3 3 .113 Until 1928 tw o-thirds o f the listeners were fro m Vienna;
th e re a fte r Viennese p re p o n d e ra n c e declined to 55 p e rc e n t by 1933. By that
tim e h a lf th e househ o ld s in V ienna w ere radio listeners, as c o m p a re d to one-

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q u a r te r o f ho u seho lds in th e provinces. D u rin g th e first ten years o f Ravag,


A ustria e m e rg e d as a principal rad io listener co u n try in E u ro p e , surpassing
G erm an y a n d n o t far b e h in d Britain in the ratio o f listeners to p o p u la tio n .114
V iennese en th u sia m fo r th e e th e r waves can in p a rt be explained by the
low license fee o f two Schillings p e r m o n th a n d the fact that initially radio
receivers w ere largely crystal sets c o n stru c te d by the listeners. The in tro
d u c tio n o f relatively expensive tu b e radios, which gradually replaced the
crystal set, d id n o t dim inish the n u m b e r o f licensed listeners. T he annual
increase o f listeners flatten ed o u t only with the onset o f the depression in
1 9 3 1 .115
N e ith e r o f th e political cam ps locked in co m bat over co n tro l o f Ravag
a n d its p ro g ra m m in g u n d e rs to o d the fascination with radio o f the V iennese
in general a n d the w orkers in p articular. W h en th e results o f a large national
survey o f listeners a ttitu d es becam e available in 1931, the findings were
m isin te rp re te d by b o th sides. T h e a ttitu d e prevailed that the listening public
was purely passive. L istener rece p tio n was e q u a te d with p erc e p tio n , w ithout
reco g n itio n o f th e listeners p o w er to tra n sfo rm conveyed values to suit
th e ir ex p erien ce a n d needs.
T h e struggle within a n d a b o u t Ravag con tin u ed . D u rin g th e p erio d o f
a g re e d -u p o n neutrality, fro m 1924 to 1928, th e socialists praised ed u ca
tional p ro g ram s such as language courses, th e a te r previews, a n d readings
a n d discussions by w riters especially o f naturalist a n d expressionist works.
T hey criticized the p ro g ra m m in g in g eneral fo r failing to pre se n t V ienna as
a c e n te r o f th e music w orld, a n d fo r o p e ra tin g at the cultural level o f Heu-

Listening to the radio with a crystal set also became a communal experience.
(Bilderarchiv, Die W iener Stadt- und Landesbibliothek)

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rigen e n te rta in m e n t. T h e ir strongest com plaints w ere d ire c te d at the cleri


cal, C hristian Social, a n d m o n arch ist slant o f musical p ro g ram s a n d fairy
tales.116 Socialist criticism was acco m pan ied by th e only instance o f direct
p re ssu re by th e S D A P-dom inated m unicipal governm ent. Early in 1925
F in an ce C ou n cillor B re itn e r a n n o u n c e d th e extension o f the existing luxury
tax o n Ravag incom e at the ra te o f 30 percent. A re d u c tio n o r suspension
o f th e tax c o u ld be discussed, h e m aintained, only w hen th e quality o f the
p ro g ra m s h a d b e e n substantially im p ro v e d .117
A lth o u g h th e political right h a d succeeded in keeping Ravag com m itted
to light e n te rta in m e n t a n d free o f controversial subjects, it b eg an to ques
tion th e value o f neu trality in th e a fte rm a th o f th e bloody Ju ly days su r
r o u n d in g th e b u rn in g o f the Palace o f J u stic e .118 R adio technicians had
jo in e d th e gen eral strike o f July 1 5 - 1 6 , a n d Ravag had re m a in e d silent.
W hen b ro ad castin g was re su m e d the next day, the conservative a n d C ath
olic press was even m o re o u tra g e d , because a resu m o f events was delivered
by C o un cillo r B re itn e r o n b e h a lf o f M ayor Seitz.119
By this time it h a d becom e clear th a t n e ith e r political cam p was satisfied
with neutralism : th e socialists because Ravag served as a c o n d u it o f b o u r
geois values, which d istracted w orkers fro m the class struggle; the co n ser
vatives because Ravag failed to sufficiently express a C hristian a n d G erm an
worldview, a n d re m a in e d u n d e r th re a t o f political in terv en tio n by the
socialist-dom inated V iennese go vern m en t. By tacit ag re e m e n t betw een the
two cam ps a struggle o f ideas was to find a place in Ravag pro g ram m in g, b u t
each side h a d its own co n c e p tio n o f w hat such pluralism m e a n t.120
T h e w orking o u t o f positions was sp e a rh e a d e d by various radio clubs
w orker, Catholic, a n d b o u rg e o is which h a d b e e n o rganized at th e time o f
R avags creation. W o rk e r rad io enthusiasts consisting o f hobbyists a n d lis
te n e rs org an ized th e ir club in 1924, which c o u n te d 3,000 m em bers by the
e n d o f th a t y ear.121 A lth o ug h th e SDAP included this club am o n g its cultural
organizations, it h a d b e e n fo rm e d w ithout the initiative o r assistance o f the
p arty a n d freely a d m itte d party m em bers, the unaffiliated, com m unists, and
employees. U ntil its dem ise in 1932 (with 18,000 m em b ers),122 it p u rsu e d
goals in d e p e n d e n t o f a n d o fte n at odd s with th e party.
In the conflict within Ravag over th e n a tu re o f pluralism, th e W o rkers
R adio Club p ro p o s e d th a t th e SDAP representatives d e m a n d an in d e p e n
d e n t a n d substantial w o rker p ro g ra m m in g as well as m o re w orker re p re s e n
tatives o n the p ro g ra m subcom m ittee, based o n th e overw helm ing p re p o n
d e ra n c e o f V iennese a n d w ork er listeners. This stro n g stand (often re p e a te d
a n d e x p a n d e d to include the h irin g o f ra d io -com peten t artists, a n no u ncers,
a n d w riters) fo u n d little sympathy a m o n g established party officials sitting
o n Ravag com m ittees, w ho claim ed th a t th e ir p ow er to m an eu v er a n d b a r
gain was b ein g u n d e rm in e d . T he co m p ro m ise offered to a n d accepted by
the SDAP as w ork er r a d io was th e W o rk ers H o u r , a h a lf-h ou r p ro
g ram m ad e available to the C h a m b e r o f W orkers a n d Employees with equal
lim e allo tted to the C h am bers o f C o m m e rc e an d A griculture. But even this
W orkers' H o u r was severely restricted by the Ravag adm inistration, so

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th a t a p ro g ra m a b o u t th e reasons fo r the law against night w ork fo r bakers


a n d a n o th e r a b o u t school re fo rm were canceled o u t o f h a n d .123
T he behind-the-scenes struggle over p ro g ra m revision h a d obviously
b e e n h ard, fo r th e Ravag adm inistration m ad e som e a tte m p t until 1931 to
give m o re air tim e to w o rker subjects a n d activities (but always providing
equal tim e to Catholic and conservative interests). N o d o u b t it was in pa rt
g u id ed by the business reality th at the m ajority o f the paying radio a udience
was in V ienna. Such concessions in clud ed celebrations o f May Day and
R epublic Day (N ovem ber 12); a series o n the cultural im p o rtan ce o f Vienna;
an extension o f ed ucatio nal lectures; a n d direct transm ission o f w orker sym
p h o n y co ncerts a n d th e In te rn a tio n a l W o rk e r O lym pics.124
O n the surface these concessions in the nam e o f pluralism m ight suggest
that Ravag was m oving in a d irection th at would m ake the eventual realiza
tion o f socialist goals possible. But qu ite th e opp o site was true. In the c o n
servative cam p th e issue was n o t cultural p ro g ra m m in g with political o r
social overtones, b u t rad io as an in stru m e n t o f political pow er. T he lesson
o f July 1927, w hen Ravag went o ff the air a n d r e tu r n e d with socialist m u nic
ipal officials having th e ir say, was n o t lost o n C hristian Social politicians o r
the Ravag adm inistration. T o forestall a r e p etitio n o f V iennese co n tro l over
rad io in case o f em ergency, the Ravag adm inistration used a m ajo r p a rt o f
its an n u a l profits to build provincial stations to transm it national b ro a d
casts, b u t also capable o f b ro ad castin g in d ep en d en tly o f V ie n n a .125
By 1931 th e p ressures o f right-wing organizations o n Ravag h a d becom e
om inous. Following an appeal by C ardinal Piffl, th ou san ds o f new m em bers
stre a m e d in to th e C atholic radio club. T he protofascist H eim w eh r also
e x te n d e d its influence over Ravag, with 10,000 o f its m em b ers jo in in g the
conservative radio c lu b .126 M oreover, conservative a n d right-wing politi
cians w ere given m o re a n d m o re o p p o rtu n itie s to speak o n the radio, while
socialist politicians w ere e x c lu d e d .12' W h en Ravag refused to air a speech by
th e G e rm a n Nazi le a d e r G e o rg Strasser in J u n e 1932, A ustrian Nazis
attacked th e Ravag h e a d q u a rte rs .128 T h e struggle over Ravag had becom e
(or, ap parently, always h a d been) a fight fo r political co n tro l which closely
p aralleled th e battle fo r p ow er in the nation al political a re n a .129
This ex cu rsio n th ro u g h th e thickets o f Ravag struggles reveals the ex ten t
to which th e SDAP, virtually until the end, m isin te rp re te d th eir o p p o n e n ts
ultim ate aims. F o r th e o p p o n e n ts, keeping the Marxists in V ienna in
ch eck m e a n t n o t ju s t foiling th eir ed ucational a n d culturally e n n o b le d p r o
gram s fo r the w orkers. It m ean t brin g in g th e pow erful direct political pow er
o f radio u n d e r th eir co n tro l. T h e re fo re the socialists cam paign fo r th eir
kind o f p ro g ra m m in g could be w aged only o n th e level o f national politics
a n d won only if they succeeded th ere. T hey confined th e ir efforts to appeals
within Ravag a n d refu sed to go beyo n d th e m to fight fo r th eir case.
Surely th e b a rg ain in g fo r the establishm ent o f Ravag was badly carried
o ut, giving th e SDAP in ad eq u ate re p re se n ta tio n o n the governing b od ies.130
N o r did the socialists d a re to use th e po w er o f the m unicipal governm ent
ihcy co n tro lled lo force an accom m odation dial would serve their <ultural

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interests. T hese w ould have b e e n served best by a second p ro g ra m within


Ravag, a d e m a n d m ade repeatedly within the W o rk ers Radio Club b u t
re je c te d by SDAP representatives in Ravag as to o u ncom prom ising. Least
o f all d id they co n sid er m obilizing the mass o f w orker listeners fo r the direct
econom ic action o f m em b ersh ip resignation. Only in 1933, w hen such a tac
tic h a d lost m ost o f its pow er, did th e SDAP form an organization which
sp o n so re d mass resignations o n a selective basis (5,000 at a tim e).131
W hen o n e considers th at the socialists mission was to c reate a p ro le ta r
ian c o u n te rc u ltu re , o n e is struck by th e ir blindness to an d disregard fo r the
needs a n d interests o f th e working-class radio audience. Bowing to co n tin
u e d SDAP p ressu re, Ravag finally c a rrie d o u t a substantial survey o f radio
listeners in 1 9 3 1 .132 It was c o n d u c te d by the econom ic/psychological
research c e n te r o f the University o f V ienna u n d e r th e d irection o f Paul Lazersfeld an d was based o n 110,312 listener survey responses. A breakdow n
o f th e findings gave a clear pic tu re o f the com position a n d p ro g ra m p re f
e ren ces o f V iennese listeners. A m on g the m ost in terestin g general in fo r
m ation was th e following: that n early h a lf were w orkers a n d employees; that
th re e -q u a rte rs u sed tu b e radios with a speaker; that th e m ost p o p u la r lis
te n in g time was betw een 7:00 a n d 10:00 p.m.; a nd th at the largest age g ro u p
o f listeners (46 p e rcent) was thirty-one to fifty years old.
Far m o re revealing w ere the listen ers p ro g ra m p referen ces a n d desires.
T hey w ere asked to ran k p ro g ra m types offered by Ravag on a scale o f mostto le a st-p re fe rre d items. T he m ost positive response (in descen din g order)
was received by Variet evenings, light e n te rta in m e n t concerts, comedies,
V ienn a evenings, a n d dialect plays. T he m ost negative response (in d escen d
ing o rd er) was received by c h a m b e r music, choir music, literary readings,
sym phony concerts, a n d lectures a b o u t m usic.133 T h e sixteen items in the
negative category c o n ta in e d virtually every p ro g ra m p re fe rre d by the SDAP
fo r its w o rker listeners. W hat kind o f p rog ram s did th e listeners w ant to
hear? T he answers did n o t d e p a r t significantly fro m the evaluation o f Ravag
offerings: an overw helm ing p re fe re n c e fo r light a n d ch eerfu l e n te rta in m e n t
in music a n d lite ra tu re a n d fo r lectures o n u n u su al a n d sensational sub
je c ts .134 T h e re was only a m arginal difference in th e response o f m en an d
w om en to the a b o v e .136
T h e official Ravag reactio n was to praise the survey a n d to carry o u t one
im p o rta n t change by b ro ad castin g lig hter e n te rta in m e n t at the most p o p
u la r listening time, a n d m o re serious p ro g ra m s in the late evening hours.
F o r the rest, Ravag claim ed to be offering such a wide choice th at all listener
interests could be satisfied, if individuals learn ed to be selective.136 T he
socialist press tre a te d th e r e p o r t o f survey findings in a bland way. T h e b rief
est resu m covered th e m ain points, glossing over listener p references, b ut
o ffe re d n o c o m m e n ta ry .137 It seems as if th e SDAP was c o n c e rn e d with the
size o f its public but n o t with w hat it w anted to hear. I f it h a d really w anted
to fo rm u la te its ra d io policy o n th e basis o f what w orkers liked a n d expected,
it could have com m issioned its own survey long b e fo re 1931.
Ihit t h e so c ia lis ts h a d r a t h e r fix e d id e a s a b o u t t h e c u l t u r a l n e e d s o f t h e

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141

workers, a n d a functional a p p ro a c h to how radio m ight be used to fu rth e r


these ends. T h e socialists, like virtually everyone else at the time, had little
u n d e rsta n d in g o f radio as a mass m edium . T h ro u g h o u t the p erio d b ro a d
casting was at the lowest level o f ra d io s p otential and was p u t in the service
o f simply tran sm ittin g o th e r cultural form s for a mass audience. T he actu
alizing pow er o f live, sim ultaneous broadcasts o f events, giving the listener
a sense o f presence, was hardly ever achieved, because the talent em ployed
by Ravag cam e fro m traditional cultural sectors a n d lacked radio
im agin atio n . 138
T h e socialists desire to m onopolize th e w orkers leisure time, to uplift
th em fro m m e re pleasure fo r its own sake to a n o b ler cultural level, was
based on an ig no ran ce o f th e w orkers actual work ex perience and leisure
needs. It would seem th a t radio was p o p u la r am o ng the w orkers because it
pro vid ed an easily accessible m eans o f physical a n d m ental release from the
tensions accum u lated at the workplace. R e tu rn in g from the m on oto ny and
d r o n e o f sewing m achines o r the piercing so u n d o f drill presses, a w orker
may have n e e d e d a n d fo u n d relaxation a n d distraction in light program s.
T h e SDAP d isco u n ted this n e e d fo r relaxation, because it feared th at the
passive w o rker w ould fall prey to the evil messages o f his enem ies. The p a r
tys view o f the w o rker was static, ju s t as its u n d e rs ta n d in g o f radio as a mass
m ed iu m was undialectical, leading to an e q uatio n o f transm ission, re c e p
tion, a n d p e rc e p tio n .139 T o be sure, rad io insinuated itself into the w orkers
private sp h ere, b u t they re ta in e d th e pow er to select a n d filter and, ulti
mately, to tu r n th e radio o n a n d off.

S p ecta tor Sports: G la d ia to rs o f Capitalism ?


A survey o f m ass-cultural c o m p etito rs to the Socialist party culture would
be incom plete w ithout som e assessm ent o f the claims o f sp e c ta to r sports on
th e leisure time o f w orkers. It is im p o rta n t to re m e m b e r th a t organized
sp o rts w ere a c e n terp iece o f party c ulture, with ASKO claiming a m e m b e r
ship o f 110,000 in V ienna by 1931. A lthough boxing drew p eriodic crowds
o f several th o u sa n d fo r m atches held in th e P rater, it was soccer, the most
in digenous p o p u la r sp o rt, in which th e dev elo p m en t o f a mass cultural c h a r
ac te r was m ost p r o n o u n c e d .140
In th e e njo ym ent o f soccer by male Viennese w orkers we can observe
th e transitio n fro m n on co m m ercial to com m erical, to m ass-spectator p a r
ticipation: from th e stre e t play o f children a n d u rb a n niche play o f young
w orkers to th e fo rm a tio n o f dozens o f local clubs a n d the developm ent o f
district teams; fro m th e creatio n o f professional clubs o rganized a fter 1925
into two m e tro p o lita n leagues, to national select team s c o m p etin g in E u ro
p e a n c u p games. Mass sp e c ta to r soccer coexisted with soccer as a p o p u la r
p e rfo rm a n c e sp o rt a n d drew u p o n the latte r for its enthusiastic fans. Both
e m phasized su p e rio r collective effort a n d individual skill, elevating these to
a p h ysical/aesthetic level, a n d thereby e n h a n c e d the excitem ent an d loyalty
o f team -o rien ted fans. In no o th e r mass cultural form (him o r radio, for

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example) was th e re such a relationship betw een the passive a n d the active
p articipant.
It raises the q uestion o f why w orkers ceased to be satisfied with partici
p ation alone. W hat was th e re in soccer as a mass sp o rt th at a ttra c te d tens o f
tho u san ds as spectators? Ju liu s D eutsch, an im p o rta n t sports functionary o f
the SDAP, allegedly h a d the answ er.141 T h e w o rker-spectator was a victim
o f his own desire fo r ch eap distractions, which in th e guise o f political n e u
trality estra n g e d him fro m his own class. Capitalist sports, D eutsch intoned,
seduced the sp e c ta to r with the achievem ents o f stars; socialist sp o rt aim ed
collectively to develop th e physical c o m p eten ce a n d grace o f the w o rkers
body. In o th e r words, the low motives o f mass sp o rt w ere po sed against the
lofty goals o f the p a rty s spo rts activities; the primitive enjoym ents o f sports
fans against the hig her strivings o f the collectivity. Aside from the fact that
D eutsch neglected th e overdisciplined a n d almost militaristic quality o f
ASKO org an ization a n d activities, he simply sidestepped th e question o f
mass sp o rt popularity.
H e n d rik d e M a n s earlier critical observations a b o u t the needs and
motives o f w orker spectators cam e m uch closer to the mark. T he workers,
h e observed, a tta in e d a heig h te n e d sense o f self fro m the alternative tension
c re a te d by th e sports c o n te st.142 Present-day sports historians have sug
gested th at the accum u lated em otions a n d aggressions o f the m o n o to n o u s
w orkday c o uld n o lo n g er be co m p e n sa te d f o r by sp o rt p articipation, which
n o lo n g er sufficed to am eliorate feelings o f social inferiority an d give
expression to th e n a tu ra l desire fo r personal recognition. 14'!
B eginning with the late 1920s, b o th socialist a n d mass sp e c ta to r sports
w ere given enthusiastic coverage in the p o p u la r party publications DerKuckuck a n d Das kleine Blatt. This is hardly surprisin g w hen we consider that,
fro m the early 1920s on, V ienna was a soccer city. As early as 1926, in te r
national games with 40,0 0 0 spectators w ere high points o f th e season. The
stadium at the H o h e W arte in the n o r th e r n outskirts o f the city, with an
overflow capacity o f u p to 70,000 spectators, was on e o f the largest in
E u r o p e .144 In 1931 the m unicipality built a m o d e rn stadium in the P rater
with a capacity o f 60,000. A lthough the socialist city fathers h a d cre a te d this
facility to h o u se p arty sp o rt activities as well as socialist mass festivals, soccer
m atches w ere a co n sta n t attraction. In the early 1930s, with two large sta
dium s a n d n u m e ro u s district soccer fields, w eekend crowds o f 150,000 to
2 0 0 ,0 0 0 w ere u n e x c e p tio n a l.145 T o these m ust be a d d e d the tens o f
th o u sand s o f rad io fans who tu n e d in to occasional direct broadcasts o f
im p o rta n t games.
In view o f such large a tte n d a n c e figures, the draw ing p o w er o f mass
s p e c ta to r spo rts can hardly be disputed. It rem ains to place these in p e r
spective in relation to noncom m ercial a n d com m erical sports a n d the great
variety o f o th e r leisure-tim e activities in which Viennese w orkers partici
p a te d so enthusiastically a n d in such large num bers.
T h e S D A P s d e s i r e t o p e r m e a t e t h e w o r k e r s ' p r i v a t e s p h e r e a n d t o till t h a t
willi a lig h l n e t w o r k o f p a r t y - o r g a n i z e d a n d p a r t y - d i r e c t e d < iillu i.il a c tiv itie s

Worker Leisure: Commercial and Mass Culture

143

Soccer spectators (Bilderarchiv, Die Wiener Stadt- u nd Landesbibliothek)

was in te n d e d to com p e n sa te fo r the p a rty s inability to alter pow er relations


at th e w orkplace o r in th e national political arena. But the SD A Ps cultural
p ro g ra m also h a d th e loftier goal o f tra n sfo rm in g the w orkers into n eu e
M en schen . This u to p ia n goal was based o n the prem ise that in their p re s
e n t state w orkers lived at a b rutish level a n d lacked the class consciousness
necessary to resist the m anipulations o f the capitalist p ow er stru c tu re and
bo urgeois c u ltu re to which they were e x p o se d .146 In the eyes o f socialist
leaders, th e re fo re , a total tra n sfo rm a tio n o f the w orkers private sph ere was
necessary o n e th at e x p u n g e d th eir p re se n t life-styles an d excluded all cul
tural form s a n d influences th at did no t e m anate fro m th e party. M ore than
forty socialist organizations were ex p ected to satisfy all the w orkers cultural
needs.
A closer look at the cultural e n viro nm ent in V ienna has revealed th a t the
SD A Ps expectations w ere b o th dogm atic a n d unrealistic. T h e tex tu re o f
cultural life in which th e w orkers p a rticipated was b o th com plex and rich.
V ienna o ffered a full a n d varied m en u o f cultural ou tlets noncom m ercial,
com m ercial, an d mass which coexisted and w ere enjoyed by the working
p o p u latio n . T h e n u m b e r o f Viennese who particip ated in these is re m a rk
able: on a typical w eekend every m an, w om an, a n d child would seem to have
p artak en. Yet this seems unlikely. How th e n can we account for the masses
who stream ed into the ( iiisthduser, Henrigen, Varietes, citruses, the P later,
movie theaters, sp o ils stadiums, and o th e r attractio ns every weekend? Ii

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w ould seem that m any w orkers en g aged in m o re than o n e cultural activity


in th eir leisure time.
T h a t supposition, however, is inconsistent with the existing inform ation
on h o u se h o ld bu d gets a n d the p r o p o rtio n o f w orker wages available for
nonessential e x p en d itu res. O n e exp lanatio n o f this discrepancy m ight be
that th e re c o rd e d bu dg ets disguised leisure-time e x p e n d itu re s u n d e r essen
tial categories. A n o th e r would point to the large n u m b e r o f free o r very
inexpensive cu ltu ral activities available (hiking, swimming, local Variet,
movie, a n d sp o rts admissions). H o u se h o ld b u d g e t statistics also fail to take
ac c o u n t o f th e considerably la rg e r p r o p o rtio n o f wages available fo r leisure
ex p e n d itu re s by y o u n g e r w orkers, particularly those who w ere single and
m a rrie d couples w ithout c h ild re n .147
T h e strid e n t to n e o f th e socialists criticism o f n o n p a rty c u ltu re in their
various publications makes it clear th at the SDAP was aw are th at its own
p ro g ra m h a d n o t yet en g aged the m ajority o f workers. The p a rty s attem p t
to reach o u t to these was m a rre d by the uncritical a p p ro a c h to its own cul
tural p ro g ra m a n d its inability to u n d e rs ta n d why w orkers w ere a ttra c te d to
com m ercial a n d mass culture. Party leaders were oblivious to the rigid stru c
tu re s o f th e ir organizations (the uniform s, drill, a n d military language o f
th eir sp o rts organizations, fo r instance) a n d the ideological overloading o f
th eir cultural d em an d s o n the workers. T he o th e r c u ltu re was generally
dism issed as d e g ra d e d a n d degrading: the Heurigen-P ra te r com m ercial cul
tu re as an o u td a te d fo rm o f ch eap am usem ents; a n d mass c u ltu re as trash
a n d kitsch which, unless en n o b led , p u t the w orkers at the m ercy o f
capitalism .148
Mass c u ltu re drew th e socialists strongest fire because they u n d e rs to o d
it least. W ith few exceptions they failed to a p p reciate film a n d radio as
u n iq u e artistic forms. In this they w ere n o t alone, m irro rin g attitu des prev
alent n o t only in th e d o m in a n t c u ltu re b u t even a m o n g film a n d radio p r o
gram c reato rs themselves. T he socialists w ere suspicious and even fearful o f
the pow erful com b in atio n o f images in m otion, fo r instance, which had a
vocabulary a n d s tru c tu re o f th e ir own, a n d which they fo u n d irrational if
they did n o t follow th e linear form s o f high c u ltu re they w ere accustom ed
to. T hey also fo u n d it particularly incom p rehen sib le th a t audiences might
get e njo ym ent fro m the technical novelty o f film a n d radio u n re la te d to co n
tent o r any h id d e n o r obvious messages they m ight contain.
T h e socialists d en u n c ia tio n o f th e mass m ed ias bad taste reveals an
inability to ap p re c ia te w hat o n e might call the dem ocratic aspect o f these
leisure activities attractive to working-class audiences. The enjoym ent Of
film a n d radio involved a very low level o f social differentiation. T he dark
e n e d movie th e a te r pro v id ed a sense o f anonym ity in which clothes, p e r
sonal a p p e a ra n c e, a n d c o m p o rtm e n t did n o t m atter, a n d sto o d in stark co n
trast to th e th e a te r a n d o p e ra , w here seeing o th e rs an d being seen were p art
o f the ritual. Both film a n d rad io prov ided a realm o f choice allowing for
individual taste a n d at th e same tim e a sense o f equality, because the m enu
o f choices b efo re everyone was th e same. Many films were playing at the

Worker leisure: Commercial and Mass Culture

145

sam e time. Friends, new spapers, o r previous films with the same actors
could d e te rm in e th e choice. O r no a p p a re n t choice n eed ed to be made
beyo n d im m ediate im pulse o r convenience. R adio could be kept playing as
a b a c k g ro u n d d istractio n to which the listener tu n e d in and out, o r specific
p ro g ra m s could be selected. In e ith e r case, the m en u o f choices was p re
d e te rm in e d a n d th e same fo r everyone, co n tro l was private an d com plete,
a n d the social c o n tex t was the domicile. Such flexibility o f choice was a lib
e ra tin g experience, in co n tra st to the discipline a n d restrictions o f the work
place. M oreover, th e p rice differentials in movie theaters w ere m uch smaller
th a n in o p e ra o r the a te r, a n d radio fees w ere the same fo r everyone. Enjoy
m e n t o f rad io a n d film re q u ire d little effort a n d at th e same time gave a sense
o f belonging, o f being e qu al to others.
W ere the audiences o f th e mass m edia really as passive as the socialists
believed ready victims o f bad taste a n d hostile ideologies? Until recently
o n e simply assum ed th a t audience rece p tio n a n d p e rc e p tio n w ere the same.
This w ent fo r mass e n te rta in m e n t as well as mass con su m p tio n products.
But the process o f p e rc e p tio n ap pears to be very com plex, involving the p e r
sonality o f viewers as d ifferen tiated in various ways: by age, gen der, form al
a n d in fo rm al e d u catio n , political experience, a n d so on. Studies o f A m eri
can film audiences in th e early silent era have revealed that th ere was c o n
siderable verbal a n d physical audience reaction to what a p p e a re d on the
s c re e n .149 In a similar way, fascination with a p a rtic u la r radio p ro g ram , fol
lowing it weekly a n d with co m m entary a n d discussion o r later reference
a m o n g peers, as well as leaving the radio on a n d using it as a kind o f envi
ro n m e n ta l b a ck grou n d, are exam ples o f in teractio n with the mass media.
O n e should n o t castigate the socialists fo r b eing no m o re sophisticated
a b o u t mass c u ltu re th a n anyone else at the time, o r fo r failing to recognize
that the relationship b etw een p ro d u c tio n , con sum p tio n , and use was n o t a
linear process o p e n to simplistic co rrection s based o n party dogm a. But
th e ir lack o f psychological insight into the life-styles a n d daily pressures on
th e w orking class fo r w hom they claimed to speak, a n d th eir unsubtlety in
a rg u in g against the o t h e r cultures an d fo r th eir own, suggest why their
p ro le ta ria n c o u n te rc u ltu re failed to a ttra c t a m ajority o f workers. U n fo r
tunately fo r the SDAP, the purveyors o f mass cu ltu re w ere far m ore adept
in a ttra c tin g th eir audience.

CHAPTER 6

The W orker Family:


Invasions of the Private Sphere

As we have seen, th e SDAP a tte m p te d to create a clim ate in the public


sp h e re o f V ienna conducive to th e im p lan tation a n d acceptance o f its cul
tural p ro g ram . B road reform s in housing, health, social welfare, and e d u
cation aim ed to im prove the w o rkers quality o f life. A com plex netw ork o f
party organizations assum ed th e difficult task o f creating a p ro letarian sub
cu ltu re capable o f carrying o u t th e tran sfo rm atio n o f w orkers into n e u e
M ensch en . T he SDAP leaders realized fro m the beginning that the effec
tiveness o f b o th m unicipal socialism a n d th eir com prehensive cultural p r o
g ra m d e p e n d e d o n re ach in g into th e w o rkers private sphere. T h e w orker
family, th e re fo re , received p a rtic u la r a tte n tio n as th e m ost fund am ental
agency fo r influencing a n d shaping changes in behavior a n d consciousness.
It was n o t so well u n d e rs to o d th a t th e family, as a c e n te r o f private life and
rep o sito ry o f accep ted habits a n d practices, co m m a n d e d pow ers to resist
intrusions into its realm o f activity a n d c o n tro l.1
T h e n u c le a r family m odel becam e pervasive in V ienna a n d o th e r E u ro
p ean cities only betw een the late n in e te e n th cen tu ry a n d the early 1920s, as
an a d a p ta tio n to c hang ing p ro du ctiv e tech niq ues o f high industrial capital
ism, which d e m a n d e d a stable w o rker existence a n d assured re p ro d u c tio n
o f labor. This closed fo rm o f family socialization gradually rep laced p re
vious o p e n form s such as co n cu b in ag e a n d o th e r types o f u n re g u la te d
associations with a high d eg re e o f illegitimate b irth s.' T he e m ergin g disci
plined a n d o rd erly w orker family a p p ro x im a te d the m odel p ro p o se d by
middle-class social re fo rm e rs o f the late n in e te e n th century. They had
h o p e d to in te g ra te the w orker family into th e n orm s o f bourgeois life and
th ereb y to assure stability a n d peace in th e social o rd e r. W h e th e r the stable
a n d o rd e rly w orker family w ould provide the basis fo r p ro letarian e m b o urgeoisem ent o r fo r g re a te r class consciousness a n d participation in workingclass organizatio n s re m a in e d an o p e n q u e stio n .3
T h e A ustrian socialist leaders clearly aim ed at the second o f these two
possibilities a n d sought to stre n g th e n the formal stru c tu re an d shape the

The Worker Family: Invasions o f the Private Sphere

147

values o f the n u c le a r working-class family.4 In following this strategy, the


A ustrom arxists a p p e a re d to reject the a ccep ted Marxist canon, which antic
ipated th e dissolution o f th e family u n d e r capitalism a n d its rep lacem en t by
com m u n al form s o f social org an ization .5 In th e Viennese co n tex t after
1919, th eir e m b ra c in g o f the n u c le a r family m odel was pragm atic; it also
b ro u g h t th em dangerously close to the interventionist position o f th eir
b o u rg eois a n d clerical o p p o n e n ts. T h e bourgeois re g a rd e d the family as the
f o u n d a tio n o f social stability a n d conform ity; the Clericals con sid ered it the
prim ary spiritual un it o f C hristian morality. As we shall see, th e socialists
interv ention in the w ork ers private sphere, like the p resu m p tio n o f their
o p p o n e n ts , assum ed that the w orker family was a passive entity. T h at view
yielded a paternalism with a social pu rp o se. As o n e re c e n t c o m m e n ta to r has
observed: Whilst th e old o r d e r a n d its fa th e r figures h a d fallen from
pow er, the social dem ocratic leaders cam e forw ard in the chaos o f th e first
postw ar years as new fath er-fig ures. 6
M en w ere n o t a direct subject o f the SD A Ps atte m p t to tra n sfo rm the
working-class family. T hey w ere, however, always in th e b ac k g ro u n d as b e n
eficiaries o f the m o re orderly, relaxing, a n d peaceful ho m e e n viro nm ent to
be created . T h e task o f building this dom estic haven was placed o n the
sh ou lders o f w om en, whose n a tu re , ap p e a ra n c e, an d responsibilities were
to be alte re d a n d e n h a n c e d , a n d whose role as wives a n d m o th ers was to be
redefined. In its a tte m p t to tra n sfo rm the w o rk er family, the SDAP paid p a r
ticular a tte n tio n to the re a rin g o f ch ild ren a n d to the later organized life o f
y outh, in the belief th a t the aspired-to goal o f ne u e M en sch en d e p e n d e d
o n the n ext g e n eratio n . I f th e socialists goal h a d an ethical/social p u rp o se,
th eir m eans o f a ttain in g it was largely limited to form s o f discipline, selfdenial, a n d the p o stp o n e m e n t o f gratification.

T h e N e w W om a n an d th e T r ip le B u r d e n
W hat actual place was acc o rd e d to w om en in th e cultural ex p erim en t to
tra n sfo rm working-class life? Socialist party publications were silent o r at
best o b tu se o n the subject o f w om en p e r se o r o f female consciousness and
identity. This subject was generally su bsum ed u n d e r various h ig h er social
goals: th e creatio n o f ordentliche7 (orderly, d ecen t, respectable, a n d disci
plined) w orker families; the n e e d fo r rational a n d co n tro lled re p ro d u c tio n ,
leading to a healthy new g e neratio n ; a n d the desire to make a varied party
life c entral to th e lives o f workers. Since fem ale w orkers a c c o u n te d for
alm ost 40 p e rc e n t o f th e total labo r force, a n d since 80 p e rc e n t o f m arried
w om en w ere in som e way em ployed,8 the party lite ra tu re devoted consid
erab le space to th e plight o f w om en com pelled to b e a r the triple b u rd e n o f
work, h ousehold, a n d child rearin g .9 In a tte m p tin g to rescue working-class
w om en fro m this plight, th e socialist re fo rm e rs hypostatized th e new
w o m an as the female pa rt o f the ne u e M ensch en they were in the p r o
cess o f creating. As we shall see, h e re as elsew here in the socialists' (rails-

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fo rm atio n al p ro g ram , the re fo rm e rs failed to distinguish betw een their


m odest initiatives a n d th eir ex pectatio ns a confusion o f the p re se n t with
the fu tu r e that resu lte d in a mythic substitu tio n fo r reality.
W hat p ic tu re o f th e new w o m a n did the socialist lite ra tu re p ro ject for
its readers? H e r physical a p p e a ra n c e was youthful, with a slender garon fig
u re m ade supple by sports, with b o b b e d ha ir a n d u n re stra in in g garm ents
bespeaking an active life; h e r te m p e ra m e n t was fearless, o p en , a n d relaxed.
T o h e r h u sb a n d she was a com rade; fo r h e r children she was a frie n d .10 The
working-class w om an o f yesterday carew orn in a p p earan ce, im prisoned
by h e r clothes, u n a p p ro a c h a b le by those who n e e d e d h e r 11 was to be abol
ished by waving a magic w a n d .12 This image, like m any o th e r aspects o f the
socialists p ro g ram , was a d a p te d fro m middle-class a ttem pts to redefine the
role o f fem ales in society. A seminal w ork in this liberation m ovem ent was
the widely tran slated a n d som ew hat scandalous La Garonne by V ictor Margueritte, which fe a tu re d an in d e p e n d e n t, self-assured, an d worldly wom an
w ho fo u g h t against the d o u b le sta n d a rd a n d d e m a n d e d the right to sexual
e x p erim en tatio n . In the year o f its publication (1922) it sold 3 0 0,000 co p
ies; by 1929 sales re a c h e d over a million in Fran ce a lo n e .13 In th e 1920s the
garonne/ flap p er becam e a w idespread female role m odel in the industrial
ized w o rld .14
H ow was the tra n sfo rm a tio n envisaged by the SDAP to be accom
plished? O n e sta n d a rd answ er was the equalization o f fem ale and male
wages, m aking it possible fo r w om en to tu rn over housew ork a n d child care
to paid, tra in e d h e lp .15T h e m ost co m m o n advice fo r red u cin g the triple b u r
d e n was th e rationalization o f housew ork. This fascination with rationaliza
tion in th e dom estic sp h ere ec h o e d th e latest d evelopm ents in the scientific
m a n a g e m e n t o f industrial p ro d u c tio n a n d reflected the em phasis o n science
a n d efficiency o f the h o m e econom ics m ovem ent in the U n ited States. It
w ent h a n d in h a n d with the h o u se -p ro u d n e ss exem plified by cleanliness an d
neatness, an aesthetic o f simplicity a n d functionality, a n d the d e m a n d for
form al train ing in efficient h o u se w o rk .16 T h e SD A Ps c o n cep tio n o f d o m es
tic rationalization so u gh t mainly to lighten the b u rd e n o f each wom an in
h e r hom e, thereb y con tra d ic tin g the d e m a n d fo r professionalization o f
housew ork.
T h e p arty o ffered working-class w om en a variety o f practical advice.
T hey w ere e n c o u ra g e d to provide themselves with electric h o t plates and
irons, sewing m achines, a n d vacuum cle a n e rs.17W hen th e costliness o f these
im plem ents was re m e m b e re d , th e suggestion was m ade th at wom en forgo
the luxury o f perso n al p resen ts such as jew elry a n d d resses in favor o f
these labor-saving devices.18 O therw ise, w om en w ere advised to purchase
a n d use these m achines collectively.19
Rationalization o f th e h o u seh o ld was the keynote, an d p o p u la r weeklies
like Der Kuckuck a n d Die Unzufriedene provided a steady stream o f labor- and
money-saving tips fo r th e simplification o f housew ork.20 O n e o f the m ost
influential p a m p h le te e rs o f th e p erio d tu rn e d h e r ingenuity to simplifying
the ela b o ra te Sunday lu n c h the bane o f working-class w om en.1 Accord-

The New Woman

Utilitarian clothing contrasted with bourgeois


linery. (Die Unzufriedene)

I.oose-fitting clothing, sensible shoes, and


bobbed hair (VGA)

2.&ahr Vp.O
if*. M a t tJC

l!l\l> ANNIT
tum

1.it e ra te a n d i n te lle c tu a lly ( l ir ions (V( iA)

A b o d y m a d e si11>|>! hy s p o r t s (Der K11<I<111I<)

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ing to h e r form ula, so up was to be a b a n d o n e d in favor o f cold canaps (with


sardines, capers, o r olives!); th e m ain dish a n d baked dessert w ere to be p re
p a re d o n the previous a fte rn o o n ; a n d the accu m ulated m o u n d o f dishes, if
n e ith e r h u sb a n d n o r children were inclined to wash them , should be left for
M onday. T hus the harassed housew ife was lib e ra te d on Sunday a fter
n oo n .
O n occasion, th e subject o f the sexual division o f lab or in the ho usehold
was raised b u t never really e x p lo re d .22 Instead, the socialist refo rm ers
o ffered th e by-now-familiar nostrum s: equal pay, a sh o rte n e d workday,
extension o f th e social s u p p o rt system (nurseries, kindergartens, y o u th cen
ters) a n d collective facilities, a n d trained, paid housew orkers. T he a p p a re n t
o b ject o f these m easures was to red u c e th e triple b u rd e n o f w orking w om en
a n d to m ake it possible fo r th em to particip ate in the working-class m ove
m e n t a n d to rem ain intellectually sh a rp by re a d in g sensible periodicals an d
b ooks. 23 But th e re w ere o th e r goals set fo r the free time to be won for
w om en. Tim e a n d again the lite ra tu re a p p la u d e d the o p p o rtu n ity thus
c re a te d fo r w om en to devote themselves emotionally to h u sb a n d and
c h ild re n .24
It seems th a t th e tim e gained by w om en th ro u g h th e rationalization o f
housew ork was n o t to b e at th e ir ow n disposal. T he socialist re fo rm e rs had
already allocated it: hu sb and s g r o u n d dow n by conditions at work w ere to
be w eaned from the Gasthaus a n d tied to the hom e with ten derness and
u n d e rsta n d in g . M arriage itself was to be a ltered by these o p po rtu n itie s for
freedo m . H e len e B auer saw th a t old institution b eing tra n sfo rm e d into an
erotic-com radely relationship o f equ als, as w om en gained status th ro u g h
th e ir work.25 H e r excessive optim ism a b o u t th e liberating pow er o f work for
w om en led to a sh arp critique. B auers n otion , it was argued, m ight apply to
a few b ou rg eo is w om en, b u t fo r pro le ta ria n w om en work rem ain ed a b u r
d e n r a th e r th a n a sign o f progress in status.26
H ow ever th e visions o f th e new w o m an w ere form ulated, a n d no m at
te r how m any new creative attrib u te s the image was endow ed with, the
em phasis in th e e n d was always o n w o m a n s role as m other. T h e sculptures
o f w om en selected by the city fath ers fo r public places such as municipal
h o u sing invariably d e p ic te d th e static, am ple, n u r tu r in g m o th e r ra th e r than
the dynamic, gargon-gured new w om an.27 R epeatedly m o th e rh o o d was
invoked as w o m a n s m ost n o b le calling.28 T h e whole subject was sub
su m ed u n d e r th e ru bric p o p u la tio n politics, d e n o tin g a eugenic
a p p ro a c h to th e c re a tio n o f a healthy a n d s u p p o rta b le new g e n e ra tio n (see
below).
SDAP publications laid g reat stress o n th e healthy female body as the
m eans to a n a tu r a l beauty. C en tral to go o d p ersonal hygiene was the daily
b a th a n d rubd o w n , including those parts below (he navel.29 T h e use o f cos
metics was discouraged, save fo r h o m eo p ath ic rem edies for less than glow
ing facial skin. A fter 1930, wilh th e on set o f the econom ic crisis an d
increased c o m p etitio n fo r jobs, periodicals m ade concessions to the use o f
com m ercial cosm etics to e n h a n c e the ap p e a ra n c e o f female job seekers.30

The Worker Family: Invasions of the Private Sphere

151

In add itio n to personal hygiene, fresh air a n d especially physical exercise


w ere obligatory fo r th e new w oman. W orking w om en o f childbearing age
w ere e n c o u ra g e d to p articip ate in the SDAP sports p ro g ram o r at the very
least to d o ten m inutes o f calisthenics on th eir own b efore going to w ork.31
T hereby they w ere to be assured o f two benefits: to becom e healthy and
stro n g in p re p a ra tio n fo r m o th e rh o o d , a n d to retain th eir youth a n d beauty
ju s t like b o u rg eo is w o m en .32 T h e p re g n a n t a n d p o stp a rtu m w orking woman
received similar advice. If she took reasonable care o f h e r body d u rin g these
critical periods, she w ould retain h e r ch arm a n d attractiveness in the eyes
o f h e r h u sb a n d .33 Such care included avoidance o f heavy work by those
p re g n a n t; avoidance o f all w ork a n d excitem ent d u rin g the first weeks o f the
ch ild bed period; a n d massages by a professional, o r at least calisthenics for
several m on ths, fo r n u rsin g m others. T h at econom ic circum stances o r
financial reso u rces m ight play a role in m aking such care possible was raised
b u t never explored.
W hat was th e everyday life o f Viennese working-class w om en really like?
T o what e x te n t w ere they in a position to be tra n sfo rm e d into the new
w om an? In a tte m p tin g to answ er these questions, a useful point o f d e p a r
tu re is the excellent survey studies o f industrial w orkers a n d hom ew orkers
c arried o u t by K the L eich ter at the tim e.34 A ccording to the census o f 1934,
4 1.5 p e rc e n t o f V iennese w om en over fifteen w ere in full e m ploym ent.35 O f
these, 46.5 p e rc e n t w ere workers, 24.4 p e rc e n t w ere em ployees, a n d 13.2
p e rc e n t w ere dom estics.3b It seems reasonable to look fo r answers to the
above questions a m o n g w orkers in industry, w here th e larger c ontext, c o n
tact with tra d e un io n a n d party, a n d accessibility to new ideas were m ost
likely to lead to the conflict an d g rad u al b len din g o f traditional values and
chang ing circum stances.37
As we follow th e industrial w orking w om an th ro u g h h e r n o rm al day and
e x tra p o la te h e r ex p e rie n c e fo r the week, m on th, a n d year, it becom es
a p p a re n t th at th e socialist re fo rm e rs re n d itio n o f th e triple b u rd e n tre a te d
it fa r to o lightly a n d schematically. W orking h o u rs fo r m ost w om en began
at 7:00 a.m. and e n d e d at 5:00 p.m ., b u t with th e inclusion o f travel time,
this m ade fo r an absence from ho m e o f eleven to twelve h o u rs a day.3 But,
co nsid ering th eir h ou seh o ld obligations, the workday began betw een 5:00
a n d 6:00 a.m. a n d lasted until 10:00 o r 11:00 p.m ., m aking fo r a total work
day o f sixteen to eigh teen h o u rs.39 A lmost h a lf o f th e w om en a n d threeq u a rte rs o f those m a rrie d did all the housew ork; those receiving assistance
relied overwhelmingly on m o th e rs a n d m others-in-law .40
C onditions in the hom es o f these fem ale w orkers w ere no t m o re p ro m
ising f o r the rationalization o f housew ork. In m anaging th eir ho u seh old 18
p e rc e n t h a d gas, electricity, a n d ru n n in g water; b u t an equal n u m b e r had
n o n e o f these (though m o re than a third had electricity a n d water). Almost
h a lf o f the w om en workers, an d even a q u a r te r o f th o se m arried, did not
have a h o m e o f th e ir own but lived with p a re n ts o r as su btenants. B edroom s
were sh ared with two o r m o re persons by m o re than half, and with th ree o r
m ore p erso n s by m ore than a third of the women. " Even I hose who were

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Female factory workers (Der Kuckuck)

fo rtu n a te e n o u g h to live in the new m unicipal housin g (10.8 p ercent) gen


erally sh a re d th eir b e d ro o m s with h u sb a n d s a n d children because o f th e lim
ited space (38 to 48 square meters) in these a p a rtm e n ts.42 Latter-day oral
histories have a d d e d interesting details to this p ic tu re o f crowding, i t was
co m m o n fo r y o u ng m arried couples to wait five to six years fo r an ap a rtm e n t
o f th e ir ow n a n d to live cheek by jow l with p a re n ts a n d y o u n g e r siblings. It
was n o t u n c o m m o n fo r children to share th e ir p a re n ts b e d o r the b e d o f
the sam e-sexed p a re n t.43
T h e triple b u rd e n o f m any w orking w om en included child care, which
f u r th e r o ccu pied th eir tim e an d d ra in e d th eir energy. Som e m o th e rs com
p lained a b o u t available k in d erg arten s because they accepted children only
at age fo u r; m any o p e n e d th e ir d o o rs only at 8:00 a.m., o n e h o u r a fter the
adult w orkday had begun; som e served n o lunchtim e meal; a n d m ost had
long a n d fre q u e n t holiday p erio ds o r closed abruptly b ecause o f childhood
diseases. In m any cases th e small fees c h a rg e d by k in derg arten s a n d a fte r
school c e n te rs w ere b eyond the m eans o f th e family.44 Was the triple b u rd e n
lig hten ed on w eekends? T h re e -q u a rte rs o f th e sam ple a n d four-fifths o f the
m a rrie d w om en d e v o ted Saturday a fte rn o o n (the m o rn in g was a workday)
to housew ork. O nly Sunday a f te rn o o n was available to m ost w om en as a
time fo r rest a n d / o r recreatio n ; o n e -th ird o f those m arried an d tw o-thirds
o f those single had Sunday m o rn in g free.4r
It is difficult to see how u n d e r such conditions w om en should have c o n
sidered th eir work as an en ha n c e m e n t o f th e ir status; indeed, they did not.

The Worker Family: Invasions of the Private Sphere

153

Aside fro m th e a p p a re n t additional hard ship , w ork cre a te d conflicts in


female identity based o n narrow ly defined g e n d e r role models. T he delin
e ation o f w o m en s place in the h o m e was strongly re in fo rc e d in the postw ar
p erio d by an em phasis o n creatin g a real h o m e fo r the w orkers, on e that
was n e a t a n d clean . 46 This was m ade possible in p a rt by the stabilization
o f dom iciles th ro u g h re n t co n tro l a n d in p a rt th ro u g h the building initia
tives o f the m unicipality. T he goal o f the p ro p et' h o m e was no t only a
respo n se to influences fro m the d om in a n t bourgeois c ulture; it was in every
way p ro m o te d by the schools a n d social welfare agencies o f the m unicipal
ity.47 Such increased valuation o f h o m e an d dom esticity led to an increase
in th e variety o f housew ork.48 It also stre n g th e n e d existing p atte rn s o f gend er-ro le definition by which females were associated with hom e a n d h o u se
h o ld at an early age.4'1Schoolgirls m ight have resisted such expectations o f
dom esticity in th e h o p e o f finding em ploym ent, b u t th eir limited p ro s
pects d ressm ak er a n d nann y reflected interests associated with female
activities such as needlew ork a n d taking care o f small c h ild ren .511 Besides,
th e ir o p p o rtu n ity fo r developing skills th ro u g h ap p ren ticesh ip was very
lim ited.51
Conflicts o f identity w ere n o d o u b t rein fo rc e d by the realities o f the
la b o r m arket, w here w om en were given the m ost menial positions, were the
first to be fired, a n d received wages that were only 5 0 - 6 5 p e rc e n t o f male
wages fo r equal w ork.52 A lthough w om en w ere p ro te c te d by law from night
shifts, heavy physical labor, and d a n g e ro u s occupations, labo r inspectors
r e p o r te d fre q u e n t b reaches o f the rules.53 T h e condition o f female h o m e
w orkers was fa r w orse54: th eir wages were 50 p e rc e n t less than those o f
w om en in industry; they h a d n o collective wage contracts; they suffered
fro m in te rm itte n t un em p loy m en t; th eir living q u a rte rs were am o n g the
smallest a n d m ost densely po p u lated , a n d served as w orkroom s in addition
to th e ir m any o th e r functions. Dom estic w orkers were the m ost exploited
a n d least p ro te c te d o f all. A lth o ug h a law o f 1920 reg u la te d h o u rs o f work,
wages, time off, a n d vacations, w orking conditions rem ain ed largely
u n su p erv ised .55
T h e tra d e u n io n s did little to alter the im pression that w om en were an
u n w a n te d p resen ce a t th e workplace. Lip service was given to equal pay fo r
equal work at trad e u n io n congresses,56 b u t on th e sh op floor the a ttitud e
prevailed th a t w om en took away m e n s jo b s .57 T h e re was a w idespread attack
o n m a rrie d w orking w om en as d o u b le e a rn e rs which the tra d e unions
a p p e a r to have a b e tte d .58 This lack o f su p p o rt is asto u n d in g when o n e co n
siders th at th e w orking w om en o f V ienna supplied 26.4 p e rc e n t o f the trad e
u n io n m em b ersh ip .59 T h at th e tra d e u nio ns m ade little effort to integrate
w om en w orkers o r to acco rd them positions in th eir organizations c o m m en
su rate with th eir n u m b e rs can be a d d u c e d fro m the low p ercen tag e o f
female sh op stew ards,60 the male o rien tatio n o f tra d e un ion papers, and the
u n d e rre p re s e n ta tio n o f w om en tra d e unionists at general congresses.61 It is
small w onder, th en , that trad e unionism fo r wom en w orkers rem ained a for

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mality, som eth in g exp ected o f them , a n d that only 21.7 p e rc e n t o f the
w om en trad e unionists in L e ic h te rs study ever a tte n d e d u n io n meetings
a n d only 3 p ercen t re a d the un io n p a p e rs.62
Why, then, did wom en w ork in factories? L eichter concludes that it was
o u t o f p u re econom ic necessity.63 W ould they have c o n tin u e d to work, if
th eir h u sband s o r fath ers h a d be e n able to su p p o rt them ? Eighty-five p e r
cent answ ered no .64 T h e im peratives fo r such a choice are n o t difficult to
u n d e rsta n d . A re tre a t from work into the h o usehold was th e only way o pen
fo r w om en w orkers to re d u c e the triple b u rd e n . N eith er the city fathers n o r
the socialist re fo rm e rs had be e n able to create sufficient a n d a p p ro p ria te
social services to re d u c e th eir la b o r in the dom estic sp here, n o r h a d they
seriously b ro a c h e d th e traditional sexual division o f la b o r there, which
w ould have m ade a g re a te r d ifference th a n all th e labor-saving devices and
rationalization schemes. Yet th e re are indications that w om en derived cer
tain psychological benefits fro m w ork outside the ho m e in the form o f
female solidarity.65
I f we look at th e b a re facts o ffered in L eic h te rs study, we n e e d hardly
w o n d e r th a t w orking w om en w ere light years rem oved from th at attractive
image o f the new w om an p ro je c te d in the socialist literature. How could a
w orking w om an tra n sfo rm h e r body in to the figure o f a garon, w hen h e r
diet c onsisted largely o f b read , starchy grains, a n d fat; w hen coffee was h e r
mainstay m o rning, n oo n , a n d night; an d sugar was th e cheapest source o f
calories?66 W hat tim e o r energy was th e re in the w orking w o m an s day for
sports, m eetings, cinem a, concerts, theaters, o r even reading?67 Given the
stress o f m eetin g h e r daily responsibilities, what o p p o rtu n ity was th e re fo r
h e r to be fearless, o p en , a n d relax ed , to becom e a c o m ra d e to h e r h u s
b a n d a n d frien d to h e r c h ild re n ?
A w o rd o r two a b o u t the great variety o f helpful hints to th e hou sew ife/
m o th e r served u p by th e socialist re fo rm e rs should suffice. Labor-saving
im plem ents w ere simply bey on d th e m eans o f all b u t a few w orking women.
N o r did they have th e time to organize the collective use, o r even th e small
change necessary f o r th e collective pu rch ase, o f the same. H ow could the
typical k itch en-and -roo m o r ro om -and-a-half w orker a p a rtm e n t be ratio
nalized, given th e density o f h abitation, multiple use o f all space, a n d fre
q u e n t absence o f basic amenities? T h e p ro b lem was n o t fu r th e r o r b e tte r
o rganization b u t m o re space. F o r m ost w om en, the daily ablutions called fo r
w ould have m ea n t strip p in g in the kitchen in full view o f children a n d o th e r
adults, n o t to speak o f b rin g in g cold w ater from the hallway tap. T he ex e r
cise fo rced u p o n m ost w orking w om en consisted o f h ou seh o ld p reparatio n s
a fte r rising a n d a brisk walk to the workplace. Calisthenics, even fo r ten m in
utes, was fo r w om en with m uch m o re leisure in th eir daily routines. W orking
w om en w ho becam e p re g n a n t surely did not have to be told what was best
for th em a n d the infant to com e. It was not o ut o f ignorance that they cut
sh o rt th e ir legally g u a ra n te e d lying-in a n d p o stp a rtu m leaves but o u t o f fear
o f losing th e ir jobs.68 M oreover, how c ould th e average p regn ant o r nursing
w orking wom an avoid heavy work, as she was counseled to by tin1reform ers,

The Worker Family: Invasions of the Private Sphere


o r afford massages to revitalize h e r body? T h e suggested time-saving Sunday
lunch with olive canap s deserves n o com m ent.
It m ight be a p p ro p ria te at this p oint to ask whom these socialist mes
sages m ight have re a c h e d a n d served. In Vienna, certainly the SDAP func
tionaries a n d cadres, o f whom th e re w ere m o re than 20,000 by 1931, and
fu n ctio naries in th e tra d e un ion s a n d C h a m b e r o f W orkers a n d Employ
ees.69 B eyond them , w orkers in safe a n d well-paid em ploym ent in the public
a n d m unicipal sectors, who had already reached a lower-middle-class living
s ta n d a rd .70 But the rank-and-file female w orker in industry an d especially
the hom ew orkers a n d dom estics were by a n d large beyond reach.
Surely th e socialist re fo rm e rs w ere well-meaning, especially in the light
o f th e ir m any initiatives in b e tte rin g th e lives o f A ustrian workers. Why,
then, w ere th e ir tran sfo rm a tio n a l plans fo r w om en so unrealistic, so blind
to the actual life-styles a n d deprivations o f working women? In the cultural
la b orato ry o f V ienna a fun d am en tal and p e rh a p s unbrid geab le distance
b etw een leaders a n d masses cam e to light.71 T he average w orker a n d the
h ig h e r fun ctio n ary in ha b ite d two different w orlds b etw een which th e re was
little contact. Fem ale leaders in p arliam en t all belon g ed to an o ld e r g e n e r
ation whose age in 1930 ra n g e d from fifty-one to sixty-seven./L> But even
y o u n g e r fem ale leaders who h a d professions outside politics a n d w ere m ore
p erceptive a b o u t social realities in general, such as Kthe Leichter o r M ar
ianne Poliak, w ere middle-class professionals viewing jthe working-class
w orld fro m afar. It was all well a n d g o od fo r T h erese Schlesinger, A nn a Boschek, A delheid P o p p , G abriele P ro ft, a n d even M arianne Poliak a n d Kthe
L e ich ter to e x h o rt working-class w om en to rationalize housew ork. These
leaders knew n e x t to n o th in g a b o u t a b u rd e n they w ere able to tu rn o ver to
h ire d h elp .73
T h e same applies to the o th e r n o strum s they offered to th eir readers.
Most spoke in im peratives society sh o u ld , the municipality is obli
g a te d a n d in th e ir self-congratulatory fo rm ulatio n s o fte n neglected
w hat actually m ight have b e e n d o n e .74 M oreover, th e socialist reform ers
te n d e d to view th e existing w orker su b cultures as barbaric a n d to deny their
positive aspects. T h e ir a ttem p ts at su p erim p o sin g the new w om an over
working-class reality may have app ealed to an elite o f functionaries and priv
ileged w orkers b u t could n o t find reson ance a m o n g ord in ary proletarian
w om en.

Sexuality: R e p r e s s io n and E x p r e ssio n


T h e study o f th e place o f sexuality in working-class c u ltu re is still in its
infancy.75 T h e m ost notew o rth y investigations sto p at the th resho ld o f the
tw entieth cen tu ry, o n the eve o f full-fledged industrialization. T h e sparse
ness o f d a ta o n all perio d s has m ade sexuality particularly difficult to inves
tigate. T h e reticence o f bo th m em oirists a n d oral history subjects to reveal
the most intim ate aspo< Is nl their private lives has Io n ed hisioi i . i i i s to work

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with very frag m en tary evidence a n d to rely on in feren ce and contextual


reco n structio ns. I f this is so, th e n why study the subject at all? Because o u r
u n d e rsta n d in g o f working-class c u ltu re would be very incom plete w ithout
som e glimpses o f intim ate life.76 T h e re , at the core o f the w orkers private
sp h ere, lie the em otion al reso u rces that have m ade it possible fo r them to
express th e ir selfhood at the w orkplace a n d to re sp o n d to th e m ost o p p re s
sive aspects o f wage la b o r.77 T h ere, also, are e m b e d d e d a variety o f subcul
tural form s a n d associations which, acting as b o th disabilities a n d strengths,
have m ade it possible fo r w orkers to resist exploitative m anipulations and
refo rm ist schemes fo r self- a n d collective im provem ent.
In its atte m p t at a total tra n sfo rm a tio n o f w orkers cu ltu re, the SDAP
erased th e b o u n d a rie s b etw een th e public and private spheres a n d between
the social a n d the sexual. As on e typical p ro g ram m atic statem en t p u t it:
Sexual relations m eet a physiological a n d psychological need, whose sat
isfaction has social consequences. F o r that reason sexual activity is n o t sim
ply a private m a tte r . 78 T h e a tte m p t by Socialist party leaders and m unicipal
fun ctio n aries to in c o rp o ra te sexuality in th eir cultural ex p e rim e n t affords
us som e insight in to the relationship betw een working-class life a n d a p a rty s
atte m p t to direct a n d re sh a p e it: into th e tenacious im perviousness o f older
su b cu ltu ral form s to re fo rm efforts which refu sed to take them into
account; into the seemingly u n b ridg eab le social a n d cultural distance
betw een socialist leaders a n d th e ran k a n d file; into the b o urgeois a n d liberal
origins o f socialist re fo rm efforts; a n d into the ultim ate similarity o f socialist
political a n d cultural goals, b o th o f which could be atta in e d only by struggle
a n d d irect c o n fro n ta tio n with th e political-cultural o p p o n e n t.
W hat place was acc o rd e d to sexuality in the tran sfo rm atio n o f workingclass life? F ro m th e b e g in n in g o f the Viennese ex p erim en t, sexuality
received considerable a tte n tio n fro m the socialist reform ers. But with very
few exceptions they w ere prim arily c o n c e rn e d with the social effect o f sex
uality o n the party, o n th e w orker family, a n d particularly o n the n ext gen
eratio n , which as n e u e M en sch en was expected to make socialist culture
a reality. Sexuality was viewed as having a social utility, especially in uplifting
the m oral stan d ard s o f w o rk er families. T h e e n d p ro d u c t was to be the
ordentliche (orderly, d ecen t, respectable) family; sexuality w ould have to be
sh a p e d a n d co n stra in e d to accom plish th a t e n d .79 Sexuality played a similar
socially practical role in th e extensive discussions o f p o p u la tio n politics,
fro m which th e n e e d fo r rational a n d con tro lled re p ro d u c tio n leading to a
healthy new g e n e ra tio n em erged.
But sexuality was n o t only viewed as a m eans to social ends. M uch o f the
socialists c o n c e rn with th e subject c e n te re d on its possible negative powers,
which th re a te n e d to distract w orkers from th e p ro g ram s, organizations, an d
activities b ein g c re a te d by th e SDAP, a n d to lead them into private spheres
that w ere at best n e u tra l in relation to collective culture. Seen in that light,
sexuality was to be sublim ated so as to make the w orkers m a rria g e to the
party possible. T he socialist re fo rm e rs show ed little c o n c e rn fo r sex as a
so urce o f pleasure an d as a norm al an d im portant part o f everyday life. In

The Worker Family: Invasions of the Private Sphere

157

its p u r e fo rm sex was an e m barrassm ent an d was tre a te d obliquely. Mosi


frequ ently it was dealt with in party publications as a p ro blem o f m oral c on
tro l in which w om en a n d youth w ere the prim ary subjects o f concern.
P o p u la tio n P olitics
Socialist periodical a n d pam ph let lite ra tu re was obsessed with the dangers
o f p ro stitu tio n , to which it claim ed working-class females were exposed. In
p a rt these fears w ere only a con tin u a tio n o f a m ajo r p reo ccup atio n o f mid
dle-class re fo rm e rs o f the 1880s an d 1890s.80 They also reflected the p o p
u la r a n d totally unreliable tracts on the d ang ers an d evils o f prostitu tio n and
pervasiveness o f venereal disease circulating in th e 1920s.81 But even the
increase o f p ro stitu tio n d u rin g w artim e and the im m ediate postw ar period,
a f u r th e r sou rce o f socialist anxiety, seems to have been exaggerated. In
1920 th e re w ere eight th o u sa n d arrests fo r p ro stitu tio n in Vienna, an d 40
p e rc e n t o f those a rre ste d w ere fro m the m iddle class.82 A later survey <>l
venereologists, gynecologists, a n d alienists p o in te d to the m arked decline ol
p ro stitu tio n in postw ar V ienna.83 A ttem p ts to lay the ghost o f decad ence to
rest a n d to situate sexual waywardness within the con tex t o f social neglect
in general w ere ra re a n d re a c h e d only a select audience o f specialists.84 For
p o p u la r c o n su m p tio n th e socialists provided cautionary and moralizing
articles a n d tracts.
Socialist party serm onizing against sexual decad en ce began early. An
article o f N ov em b er 1919, in th e biweekly fo r female SDAP m em bers, took
th e re a d e r rapidly th ro u g h the general evils o f capitalism to the dangers ol
fem ale prom iscuity, leading ultim ately to p ro stitu tio n .8" T he two, although
sequential, w ere different, th e anonym ous a u th o r insisted. Prom iscuous
w om en eng ag ed in sexual in terco u rse fo r its own sake because they desired
m en, w hereas p ro stitu tes sold themselves fo r money. But m o th e rs did
n eith er, because they d esired only o n e specific m an an d engaged in intei
c o urse only fo r the p u rp o s e o f p rocreatio n . F a r m o re influential were the
m arriage pam phlets o f J o h a n n Ferch, a p o p u la r socialist w riter o f romanli(
fiction a n d f o u n d e r o f the U nion Against F o rced M oth erho o d. O n e ol his
fre qu ently r e p rin te d p am phlets is a tre a su re trove o f m ale middle-class at 11
tud es o n m arriag e a n d sexuality.81 H e begins by proclaim ing that the plat <
o f sex in love a n d m arriage has b een exaggerated, fulm inates against those
who call fo r sexual fre e d o m fo r yo ung wom en as despoilers o f the ideal <>1
hom em aking, catalogs the evils o f prem arital sex, a n d w arns that casual love
will make a p e rso n incapable o f th e tru e love on which m arriage is built. Nor
does Ferch neglect th e d o u b le standard: the h o r r o r a m an m ight feel up o n
discovering th at his tru e love h a d b e e n possessed by o th e r men. In view
o f the present difficulties in fo u n d in g a hom e, the prereq uisite o f a happy
m arriage, he advises w om en to be o n th eir g u a rd against sexual desire,
which generally stem s fro m men.
Both o f these p atro n izin g w arnings are reminiscent o f n in e te e n tlw entury m oralizing in G erm any, France, England, an d Austria. A g re a te r irony

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lies in the fact that these socialist serm o n s restricting th e conjugal act to
p ro c re a tio n by m arried w om en a n d d e n o u n c in g prem arital sex as the act o f
fallen angels m ight have com e directly from the pastoral letters o f Aus
trian bishops in 1919 a n d virtually every year th e re a fte r.87
T h e above exam ples are typical o f the verbal sublim ation served u p in
th e party literatu re. O n e f u r th e r illustration is necessary to d e m o n stra te the
p re d o m in a n t eugenic strain in virtually all discussions o f the sexual ques
tion. A physician w riting in Die Unzufriedene, th e SD A Ps p o p u la r weekly
aim ed at u n afh liated w om en, p raised the virtues o f m arriage a n d building a
h om e, b u t strongly u rg e d w om en n o t to succum b to the prevalent n o tio n o f
love w ithout m arriage.88 Sexual relations b e fo re the age o f twenty w ere p a r
ticularly dan g ero u s, the d o c to r insisted, because the fem ale sexual organs,
as yet im m ature, w ould be p e rm an en tly d am aged an d fu tu re offspring
might be h arm e d . M oreover, n o w om an should e n te r the state o f m atrim ony
w ithout o b tain in g a certificate o f h ealth from h e r prospective spouse, since
th e well-being o f the n ext g en e ra tio n was at stake.8
In a la te r attack o n sexual abstinence literatu re, Wilhelm Reich singled
o u t the h arm fu lness o f designating an arbitrary age twenty o r even
tw enty-four as medically a p p ro p ria te fo r the onset o f sexual intercourse.
In his ex p erien ce as a sex counselor, he m aintained, those who h a d no t
m ad e the transitio n fro m m a stu rbatio n to in terco u rse by the age o f twenty
e x p e rie n c e d difficulties in d o in g so later.90
As early as 1922, u n d e r the gu idan ce o f the anatom ist Julius T andler,
th e m unicipal council c re a te d a m arriag e co nsultation clinic to certify to the
health o f prospective sexual p a rtn e rs. Its directo r, the gynecologist Karl
Kautsky, J r ., m ade it clear that the central p u rp o se o f the clinic was to p re
vent the in h eritan ce o f disabilities a n d to im prove th e quality o f the p o p
ulation. In his publicity fo r the clinic Kautsky assured the public th at n o co n
traceptives w ould be provided. By 1927 T a n d le r a n d Kautsky w ere forced
to a dm it th a t th e clinic was a failure f o r lack o f clients. In G erm any, by c o n
trast, o n e h u n d r e d such clinics h a d b e e n c re a te d by 1928, providing in fo r
m ation o n c o n tra c e p tio n a n d sexual te c h n iq u e .91
T h e subject o f sexual prom iscuity was also aired in th e m o re scientific
setting o f an in tern atio n al congress o f the W orld League fo r Sexual R eform
in 1931. T h e re T an d ler, a socialist m e m b e r o f the m unicipal council and
h e a d o f its Public W elfare Office, p re s e n te d the official SDAP view.92 Sexual
pro b lem s arising fro m sexual pathology, he asserted, were one o f th e p rin
cipal sources o f m o ral decay a n d social disintegration. T he c h ief cause o f
this misery, he insisted, was the overcrow ding o f habitations; th e re fo re the
basis o f sexual re fo rm m ust be a public p ro g ra m to create new housin g for
the w orking class.93 In th e en su in g discussion T a n d le r was criticized fo r link
ing sexuality essentially with p ro c re a tio n , fo r failing to recognize it as a spe
cial co n d itio n o f h u m a n existence, a n d fo r avoiding the reality that p ro m
iscuity in th e w orking class had its origins in the repression o f w om en by
m e n ." A f u r th e r interpellatio n challenged the right o f society to punish the

I'he Worker Family: Invasions of the Private Sphere

159

sexual transgressions o f youth, so long as n o o n e assum ed responsibility for


sex e d u c a tio n .95
T h e m ost p o in te d attack on T a n d le rs traditionalist position came from
W ilhelm Reich.% In the average Viennese w orker domicile, he claimed, f o u r
p e rso n s share a single ro o m a n d as a c o n seq u en ce the sexual act is p e r
fo rm e d fully clothed, in fear o f d istu rb ance, o r with an indifference to o th
ers presen t. This co ndition, h e added, leads n o t to prom iscuity but to the
g eneral im p o verishm en t o f sexuality in the w orking class. Y outh, who
cohabit in the woods d u rin g fair w eather, are driven into d ark doorways in
o th e r seasons. T h e re fo re it was the sexual repression (created an d m ain
tain ed by capitalism) o f the w orkers, a n d n o t their license, which was the
tru e p ro blem to be c o n fro n te d .
A ltho u gh T a n d le r a n d Reich (and o th e r critics) ag reed that d ecen t ho us
ing w ould have a positive effect o n the sexual life o f w orkers, th e two sides
disagreed fundam entally a b o u t the essence o f w orker sexuality. F o r T an d ler
it was r e p ro d u c tio n in th e stable su rro u n d in g s o f m unicipal ho usin g an d
u n d e r th e influence o f the p a rty s institutions, which would g u a rd against
m oral decay a n d assure the creatio n o f respectable w orker families. Reich
a rg u e d fo r a sexual expressiveness even fo r y ou th a n d the u n m a rrie d
that in th e eyes o f the party leadership b o rd e re d o n anarchic permissiveness
a n d rationalized th e very license th e party h o p e d to stam p out. SDAP lead
ers o p te d fo r T a n d le rs m o re o rderly position, a n d the pages o f party p u b
lications, particularly those m ean t fo r mass circulation, generally rem ained
closed to o pp o sin g points o f view.97
T h e m ost personally a n d socially d a n g e ro u s aspect o f sexuality was no t
prom iscuity (an arb itrary d esignation at best) b u t its consequences in ille
gitim ate children, u n w a n te d births, a n d illegally te rm in a te d pregnancies.
A b o rtio n , acco rd in g to p a ra g ra p h 144 o f the penal code, was punishable by
substantial prison te rm s.98 However, in the absence o f sex edu catio n in the
schools a n d o f readily available a n d inexpensive b irth c o n tro l devices (both
o f which w ere fought vigorously by the Catholic church), it was also a prev
alent fo rm o f b irth co n tro l in th e w orking class. H ow w idespread the p ra c
tice actually was is difficult to say. O n e m edical source estim ates an a b o rtion
ra te o f 20 to 40 p e rc e n t o f all pregnancies.99 C on sidering th a t a b o rtio n was
illegal a n d th e re fo re outside the reach o f official n um erical n o tation , the
u p w ard reaches o f th a t ran ge seem a p p ro p ria te fo r the w orking class. At any
rate, the incidence o f a b o rtio n was high e n o u g h to m ake it a m ajo r issue o f
social a n d political controversy.
T h ro u g h o u t th e p e rio d th e SDAP occupied a series o f am biguous posi
tions on the a b o rtio n question. In 1920 a N ational C o n feren ce o f SDAP
W o m en d e m a n d e d the revision o f p a ra g ra p h 144 to allow fo r a b o rtio n in
the first trim e ste r o f pregnancy. At the e n d o f the year A delheid P o p p p re
sen ted that proposal fo r refo rm to parliam ent, w here the C hristian Social
p arty p re v e n te d it from being formally discussed.100 In in tern al party dis
cussions d u rin g the following years th e trim e ste r m odel was m aintained, but

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arg u m e n ts in its s u p p o rt w ere largely eugenic. T he d e m a n d by th e gynecol


ogist Karl Kautsky th at each medical interv ention be duly r e p o rte d to the
police to u n d e rlin e the seriousness o f th e act u n d e rta k e n raised doubts
abo u t the conviction o f th e re fo rm e rs.101
Socialist reservations a b o u t the trim ester plan or, m o re specifically,
a b o u t allowing w om en a m ajor say in d e te rm in in g the n e e d fo r abortion,
becam e clear at a con fe re n c e o f SDAP physicians o n a b o rtio n a n d p o p u la
tion politics h eld in May 1 9 24 .102 T h e con fe re n c e a d o p te d the position o f
T an dler, popularly called the medical P o p e o f social d em o cracy , that
u n d e r n o circum stances could a b o rtio n be p e rfo rm e d o n d em an d, because
society h a d to keep co n tro l o f sexual re p ro d u c tio n a n d could n o t becom e
d e p e n d e n t o n th e needs o f individuals. In his influential writings T an d ler
h a d insisted that life is c re a te d at th e m o m e n t o f c o n cep tio n a n d that society
a n d n o t th e m o th e r has jurid ical c o n tro l over the e m b ry o .103 T a n d le r p r o
po sed th re e criteria to d ete rm in e the justification fo r abortion: medical,
eugenic, a n d social. T h e first two w ere to be d e te rm in e d by a panel o f phy
sicians. As c o ncern s the social criteria, a panel consisting o f a ju d g e , a phy
sician, a w om an, a lawyer re p re se n tin g the em bryo, a n d a representative o f
society were to d e te rm in e each case o n its m e rits.104
T h e SDAP p ro g ra m o f 1926, which o u tlin ed the p a rty s position on a
variety o f social a n d cultural questions, also included a special section on
b irth control. A lthough the party refu sed to a d o p t T a n d le rs com plicated
a n d restrictive plan, th e d e te rm in a tio n o f the n e e d fo r ab o rtio n was implic
itly left in the han d s o f experts. T h e p ro g ra m rec o m m e n d e d a b o rtio n in a
public hospital if th e b irth might affect the h ealth o f th e m o th e r, p ro d u c e
an a bn o rm al child, o r e n d a n g e r th e m o th e r s econom ic existence o r that o f
h e r c h ild re n .105 In th e years that followed, the SDAP never w ent beyond this
p o sitio n .106
T h e a b o rtio n p latfo rm at the Linz party congress o f 1926 had b een m an
aged by th e male leaders w ithout a p p a re n t o p p o sitio n .107 But at th e N ational
W o m e n s C o n fe re n c e p re c e d in g th e congress th e re h a d be e n a b ro a d e r
sp ectru m o f views, mainly because m o re radically feminist delegates from
Styria challenged th e conservative positions o f the party d o y en n es.108 T he
radical Styrians reje c te d the right o f m en to place lim itations on the need
fo r o r right to a b o rtio n s a n d a rg u e d f o r w o m en s right to co n tro l th eir own
bodies. This challenge to th e official SDAP position was easily voted down
by th e female leaders, whose views o n a b o rtio n w ere o f a piece. They rang ed
fro m T h e re se Schlesinger, who favored T a n d le rs plan o f d e te rm in g social
criteria th ro u g h panels, to A delheid P o p p and G abriele Proft, who cau
tio ned against going to o far beyond the p re se n t m entality o f working-class
w om en, to Emmy F reundlich, w ho insisted th at childbearing was a female
duty a n d p ro p o s e d that m en should have a say on prospective a b o rtio n s.109
T h e co m m o n g ro u n d am o ng leading female socialists a p p e a rs to have been
the fear o f b e a rin g the eugenically unfit, who would becom e a b u rd e n to
society.110 O n the subject o f eugenics th e socialists had u n e x p e c te d bedfel
lows am o n g racists, anti-Semites, a n d National Socialists, who d e m a n d e d

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161

that p a ra g ra p h 144 be used to w eed out th e unfit a n d to p ro m o te the m o th


e rh o o d o f healthy w o m e n .111
Fem ale party leaders c o n tin u e d to a rg u e fo r re fo rm o f the law in public
a n d in p rin t, b u t usually did so by in to n in g the im p o rtan ce o f m o th e rh o o d
in allowing p reg n an cies to be te rm in a te d fo r social re a s o n s ." 2 It is difficult
to explain why th e position o f p ro m in e n t fem ale socialists on the a b o rtio n
q uestion, th o u g h m o re differentiated th an th at o f male leaders, should have
failed to go m u ch beyo n d the official party view. Schlesinger offers some
insights in to the difficulties e x p erien ced by fem ale socialists within the in n e r
p recincts o f the SDAP. In o r d e r to fun ctio n in a party o f men, she suggests,
w om en h a d to accept the view that fem ale opp ression was a condition o f
capitalism, had to be o n th e defensive against charges o f p u ttin g g e n d e r
issues b e fo re th e im p o r ta n t questions o f the party, a n d ultimately h ad to
internalize what was e x p e c te d o f th e m ." 3
T h e SD A Ps equivocation o n p a ra g ra p h 144 can in p a rt be explained by
its principled stan d on b irth control. It called fo r th e creatio n o f public birth
c o n tro l clinics a n d the dispensing o f contraceptives th ro u g h the public
h ealth serv ice."4 T hese d em an d s h a d be e n m ade repeatedly in the past,
especially by socialist w om en, who re g a rd e d these m easures as essential in
re d u c in g th e n e e d fo r a b o rtio n a n d in m aking the sep aratio n o f pleasure
fro m p ro c re a tio n in in te r c o u r s e ." 5 But n e ith e r the SDAP n o r the m unici
pality developed a stro n g a n d com prehensive plan to tu rn such p ro g ra m
matic e x h o rta tio n s into reality. This is n o t to say th at scattered attem pts
w ere n o t m ade by o r with the blessing o f the above institutions, b u t they
lacked th e single-m inded co m m itm en t with which p ro g ram s in housing, wel
fare, a n d h ealth w ere u n d e rta k e n . T h e municipality did create thirty-six
m o th e rs con su ltatio n clinics th r o u g h o u t V ienna, b u t th eir emphasis was on
th e pro blem s o f childbirth, female pre- a n d p o stp a rtu m health, and infant
c a re .116
T h e p ro b le m o f in a d e q u a te in fo rm atio n a b o u t b irth co ntrol a n d the
inaccessibility o f contraceptives rem ain ed largely unsolved. A few consul
ta tio n clinics w ere c re a te d fo r m a rrie d couples a n d the Association fo r Birth
C o n tro l did sp o n so r lectures on sexuality, as did w o m en s g ro u p s o f th e p a r
tys cultural associations.117 But such efforts hardly to u c h e d m o re th an a
very small p r o p o rtio n o f the w orking class. Discussions ab o ut a n d advertise
m ents fo r c o n tra c e p tio n did creep into party publications. This was partic
ularly tru e o f Die Unzufriedene, which gave very serious atte n tio n to w o m e n s
issues (such as abolishing the law which still p e rm itte d rea so n a b le physical
p u n ish m e n t o f wives by husbands). But fo r every article in the party litera
tu re to u ch in g o n sexual questions, th e re were scores dealing with p ro le ta r
ian m o th e rh o o d . T he la tter was e q u a te d with a healthy sex life in which
e ro tic pleasure a p p e a re d to play n o role. Instead, the negative conse
q uen ces o f sexuality in u n w a n te d births a n d ab o rtio n s ran as a d a n g e r signal
th ro u g h the p o p u la r party p u b lic a tio n s."K
T h e im p o rtant b e g in nin g m ade by Wilhelm Reich in o p e n in g six sexual
consultation clinics fo r w orkers an d em ployees in I i)29 received no support

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fro m the party o r m unicipality. T he clinics were staffed by psychoanalysts


a n d midwives a n d w ere o p e n two h o u rs a day fo r consultation by youth as
well as m a rrie d a n d u n m a rrie d clients.119 R eich s extrem ely so b er pam phlets
o n sexuality, w ritten in a style th a t th e average r e a d e r could u n d e rs ta n d an d
dealing with coitus a n d c o n tra c e p tio n in a clear a n d supportive m anner,
w ere n o t p u b lish ed by the p arty publishing h o u se .120 N o r did th e party make
p rin te d m aterial on b irth c o n tro l o r sexual practices available to the work
ing-class public. N e ith e r the p o p u la r sex m anual Die vollkomene Ehe by H e n
drik van d e Velde, th e fran k guide fo r you th Bub und M adl by the sex
r e fo rm e r Max H o d a n n , n o r the n u m e ro u s o th e r versions o f practical
e n lig h te n m e n t available in G erm any w ere published by th e SDAP o r o th
erwise m ad e available at prices affordable by w ork ers.121 Various marginal
p etitio ners fo r party o r m unicipal action were to o d ispersed to make the
public h e a lth service carry o u t th e freq uen tly d e m a n d e d an d p rom ised free
dispensing o f pessaries a n d o th e r contraceptives.
In looking back o n the SD A Ps efforts re g a rd in g a b o rtio n re fo rm and
b irth co n tro l, o n e c a n n o t escape th e im pression th a t the party gave lip ser
vice to th e second in o r d e r to avoid having to c o n fro n t the first. Both these
issues w ere o f g reat im p o rtan ce to workers. T h e party failed to provide assis
tance in this aspect o f private life n o t b ecause it s h u n n e d in tervention th ere
b u t because it fe a re d the em otionally c h a rg e d a tm o sp h e re su rro u n d in g sex
uality as a public issue.
T h e SDAP does deserve cred it fo r having m ade the issues o f b irth c o n
trol a n d a b o rtio n p a rt o f its official pro g ram . At th e same time it raises the
q u estio n o f why th e party was so cautious in its proposals. T h e leaders
explained th e ir m o d e ra te a p p ro a c h as a m eans o f disarm ing th e political
o pp o sitio n in parliam ent. T h e C hristian Socials h a d n o p ro g ra m o f th eir
own save th e absolute re jectio n o f any m odification o f p a ra g ra p h 144 an d
the s u p p o rt o f steady p o p u la tio n grow th. They u sed this simple negative
w eap on to w ard off all socialist a ttem p ts from 1920 to 1932 to re s tru c tu re
the a b o rtio n law.122 In the face o f such d e te rm in e d a n d successful opposi
tion in parliam ent, was m o d e ra tio n th e best course, and was p arliam ent the
only o r prim ary a re n a fo r w aging a cam paign fo r reform ? By keeping the
struggle co n fin ed within strict legislative bo un d s, the SDAP p re v e n te d any
expression o f public sentim ent, any m obilization o f action fro m below by
diverse g ro u p s in society a m o n g w hom a b o rtio n was p racticed in constant
fear. In G erm any in 1931, a massive mobilization o f the public a tte m p te d
to abolish th e restrictive an tia b o rtio n laws.123 N o th in g co m parab le took
place in Austria.
This failure to e n c o u ra g e initiatives fro m below points to o n e o f the c a r
dinal weaknesses o f th e SDAP. T he highly b u re a u c ra tiz ed a n d paternalist
party saw n o n e e d fo r rank-and-file initiatives o th e r th an symbolic mass cel
eb ra tio n s which it o rganized a n d con tro lled . T h e fear o f losing control
a p p e a rs to have been u p p e rm o st in the m inds o f the leaders; mass mobili
zation ih re a te n e d the legality to whic h they w ere com m itted above all else.
T h e socialist w orkers cu ltu re, which I lie party was a tte m p tin g lo implant in

The Worker Family: Invasions of the Private Sphere

163

Vienna, also served to e n h a n c e the passivity o f the rank a n d file. A fter all,
w hat n e e d was th e re fo r p o p u la r expression on a b o rtio n (or o n o th e r
issues), w hen th e party claim ed to be taking care o f all o f th e w orkers needs
a n d pro b lem s th ro u g h its netw o rk o f social a n d cultural organizations?
Such criticism m ust n o t overlook the fact th at th e SDAP h a d genuine
reasons fo r fearin g th e op p o sitio n o f the C hristian Socials on the abo rtio n
a n d b irth c o n tro l issues. In no E u ro p e a n c o u ntry did the Catholic church
advance m o re conservative views o r play a m o re d irect political ro le .124
Every a tte m p t by the socialists to red u c e the public influence o f the church,
such as th e abolition o f com pulsory religious instruction in the schools,
resu lted in a b itte r struggle in p arliam en t with the C hristian Socials, an d in
the streets with a ho st o f Catholic A ction g ro u p s .125 Since the church
e q u a te d m orality with Christianity, o f which it was the sole g u ardian an d
only spokesm an, it fo u g h t m ost vigorously any a ttem p ts to ta m p e r with what
it d efin ed loosely as m oral conduct. It e q u a te d a b o rtio n with m u r d e r and
th re a te n e d transgressors with excom m unication, d e n o u n c e d the artificial
restrictio n o f th e n u m b e r o f children in families as blasphemy, o p po sed
coed ucatio n a n d sex e d u catio n in th e schools as invitations to lust, and
b lam ed all these signs o f m o d e rn d e g en eracy on socialist im m orality.126
Several pastoral letters w ere specifically addressed to the m oral co n du ct
o f girls a n d w om en in the form o f a d m o n itio n s.127 Girls w ere to be segre
g ated a n d closely g u a rd e d d u rin g gymnastics a n d swimming; d u rin g medical
exam inations in the schools th eir m odesty was to be assured by fem ale phy
sicians; a n d they w ere to be re stra in e d from m ixed activities such as hiking
a n d d a ncin g o r else be closely c h a p e ro n e d . W om en, as guardians o f p u re
m orality, w ere c a u tio n e d against w earing revealing m o d e rn clothing an d
in stru c te d to b ath e only at sex-segregated pools an d beaches. A ttem pts by
th e ch u rch to convert its m o ral dicta into secular law were narrow ly p r e
v e n te d by th e SDAP o n constitutional g r o u n d s .128
D u rin g the 1920s several incidents b ro u g h t th e K ulturkam pf to the p oint
o f explosion, all o f th em involving sexuality a n d public morality. T h e first
o f these revolved a r o u n d th e V ienna p re m ie re in 1921 o f A rth u r Schnitzle rs play Der Reigen and p itte d the C hristian Social federal governm ent
against th e socialist V iennese municipal a n d provincial g o v e rn m e n t.129 At
issue was the central the m e o f the play in ten scenes linking heterosexual
couples in an u n e n d in g chain o f coital relations. T hese, c u ttin g across class
lines, re p re se n te d a seamless web o f lies a n d desire, deceit a n d misery, cal
culation a n d feeling. T he C hristian Social press waged a cam paign o f d e n u n
ciation against Schnitzler a n d his socialist s u p p o rte rs in vicious anti-Semitic
epithets, an d various C atholic A ction g ro u p s p re p a re d fo r physical in te r
vention to prevent th e plays p e rfo rm a n c e beyond a trial period. T h e SDAP
chose to fight the issue o f p o rn o g ra p h y a n d censorship o n the constitutional
g ro u n d s th at the V iennese g o vernm en t was legally e m p o w ered to make a
decision in the case. T h e party refu sed to d e fe n d the artistic m erits o f
Schnitzlers reflections o n sexuality o r to answ er the Christian Social
charges o f sexual degeneracy. T h e m ayor o f Vienna, J a k o b K cum ann,

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explained th e p a rty s failure to take a position o n the sexual question by


saying th at th e m orality o f Viennese w orkers was no t affected by the play
because they did n o t go to see it.130
Two o th e r scandals b ro u g h t the issue o f sexuality b e fo re the p u blic.131
In 1924 th e Catholic ch u rc h u n leash ed a poisonous cam paign against the
w riter H u g o B ettauer, whose street novels w ere p o p u la r in the V iennese
w orker libraries a n d whose sexual re fo rm magazines reach ed a circulation
o f 60,000. In b o th he advocated sexual fre e d o m an d ex p erim e n ta tio n an d
c h a m p io n e d w o m e n s rights. T o the Catholic religious a n d lay leadership
B e tta u e r re p re s e n te d an arch fiend, sexual d em on , a n d em b o d im e n t o f p o r
nography, a blot o n public m orality th a t had to be erased. Federal C h a n
cellor Ignaz Seipel d e m a n d e d that th e m unicipal g ov ern m en t purify itself
o f this evil by exercising censorship. Again the socialists o n the m unicipal
council re s o rte d to constitutional arg u m e n ts an d refu sed to take u p the
q u estio n o f sexual morality. T he sto rm w hipped u p by Catholic Action
g ro u p s subsided by th e e n d o f th e year, b u t it had cre a te d a climate o f hate
a n d violence in which the m u r d e r o f B e tta u e r by a right-wing fanatic in the
following sp rin g was a n a tu ra l consequence.
In 1928, p o sters o f the scantily clad body o f the black Paris-based A m er
ican d a n c e r J o se p h in e B aker a p p e a re d in V ienna, an n o u n c in g h e r schedule
o f p e rfo rm a n c e s .132 F o r the C atholic leadership, public ex p o su re to p o r
n o g ra p h y a n d degen eracy was again being flaunted. C hancellor Seipel
in stru c te d Catholic A ction to mobilize th e Viennese p o p u la tio n to finally rid
the city o f the socialist g o v ern m en t which to le ra te d such filth. T he socialists
fo u gh t off C hristian Social d em an ds fo r censo rship a n d a special a n tip o r
n o g ra p h y law with th e by-now -routine constitutional weapons. At the same
tim e th e SDAP daily, Die Arbeiter-Zeitung, c h aracterized B akers p e rfo r
m ance as th e co u p lin g o f a n aked w om an with n aked m oney.
T hese b rie f sum m aries o f Catholic-socialist c o n fro n ta tio n s over sexual
ity a n d m orality c a n n o t re-create th e violent em otional climate in which they
took place. T hey sh ou ld make clear, however, th at struggles o n the cultural
fro n t w ere at h e a rt political in n a tu re . Every a tte m p t by th e socialists to
in tro d u c e new laws, practices, o r facilities in the cultural a n d social realm
was m e t by th e c h u rc h a n d its party with a violent onslaught in p arliam ent
a n d th e street. T h e C atholic offensive against any change in an A ustria it
co n sid ered to be C hristian a n d capitalist by definition m eant that any p art
o f the socialists cultural a n d social p ro g ra m -not ju s t a b o rtio n a n d b irth
c o n tro l w ould m eet p o te n t resistance. I f the socialist leaders u n d e rs to o d
this reality, they did n o t act o n it. By limiting th eir d efense to th e legal realm
a n d th e p ro te c tio n o f th e constitution, while th eir o p p o n e n ts organized
pre ssu re g ro u p s a n d fo m e n te d stre e t actions, the socialists rem ain ed in a
purely defensive position. A b o rtion a n d birth con tro l w ere issues which
m ight have b ro u g h t th e SDAP m u ch public su p p o rt n o t only from party
m em b ers o r w orkers but even from Catholics o f th e o pp o sin g party, who
also s u ffered from th e restrictions o f p a ra g ra p h 144.

The Worker Family: Invasions of the Private Sphere


Y o u th : A b s tin e n c e , D is c i p li n e , a n d S u b li m a t io n

J u s t as the SDAP a n d the municipality limited th eir c on cern fo r adult


w o rker sexuality to the questio n o f healthy re p ro d u c tio n , in which m arital
m o th e rh o o d received high m arks and the sexuality o f oth ers was left to the
realm o f sublim ation a n d repression, their c o n c e rn with the sexuality o f
y ou th alm ost exclusively sou g ht its po stp o n e m e n t. Y outh was clearly the
m ost im p o rta n t g ro u p fo r the socialist reform ers, who viewed it as the stan
d a rd b e a re r o f th e d esired tran sfo rm atio n leading to n e u e M ensch en an d
an a lte rn a te p ro le ta ria n culture. T h e c o n c e rte d party and m unicipal effort,
initiated shortly a fte r th e war, to p re p a re children an d youth fo r the tru e
p a th m et with con siderab le difficulties. In addition to the hom e, the tra
ditional place fo r the socialization o f working-class children a n d youth was
th e stre e t in reality, a s h o rth a n d te rm fo r a variety o f u rb a n niches free o f
ad u lt supervision a n d c on trol. F ro m the begin nin g o f the republic, socialist
re fo rm e rs characterized th e street as the locale o f disorder, promiscuity,
a n d d ecaden ce from which the y o ung had to be re sc u e d .133 T h e ro u g h and
ready activities in which g ro u p s o f children engaged in th eir te rrito rie s
was believed to lead to criminality. F o r boys this m ean t stealing; fo r girls,
th e far m o re irrem ediable drift tow ard p ro stitu tio n .134
Neue Menschen : the generation o f fulfillment (VGA)

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W ho was responsible fo r this wild a n d d an g ero u s socialization leading


to prom iscuities o f various kinds? The capitalist system, o f course; but
beyo n d that, the m o re tractable p role ta ria n family was iden tified.135 It
lacked th e capacity fo r the p r o p e r re a rin g o f the young, it was argued,
because o f in a d e q u a te living space, th e high rate o f divorce, th e frequency
with which b o th p a re n ts w orked outside the hom e, a n d the prevalence o f
ad u lt authoritarianism . In short, the disorderly w orker family could n o t be
e n tru ste d with th e re a rin g o f orderly socialists o f th e futu re.
T h e SDAP m ade its p ro g ra m fo r ch ild ren an d you th the c enterp iece o f
its c o u n te rc u ltu ra l efforts. It c re a te d a series o f lockstepped organizations
a n d activities fo r every age group. T h e K in d e rfre u n d e (for ages six to ten),
a p re w a r p a r e n ts association c o n c e rn e d with im p artin g a p ro le ta ria n con
sciousness to th e ir children, was in c o rp o ra te d into the SDAP stru c tu re in
1 9 2 2 .136 Its m ain fun ction was to c o u n te ra c t the prevalent street socializa
tion o f working-class children with various supplem entary educational facil
ities a n d pro gram s. T he focus o f its activities was in after-school centers in
which ho m ew ork was to be d o n e u n d e r supervision a n d com m unity re sp o n
sibility was to be instilled. T he strict discipline a n d reg im entation practiced
at these cen ters discouraged m any children, an d particularly th e o ld e r boys,
fro m a tte n d in g th e m .137
T h e R o te Falken (Red Falcons, fo r ages ten to fo u rteen ), cre a te d by the
SDAP in 1926, w ere an a d ap tatio n o f th e folkloric W andervogel, the regi
m e n te d Boy Scouts, a n d the politicized Soviet Russian Pioneers. D ressed in
g re e n hiking shirts a n d shorts o r sh o rt skirts with re d neckerchiefs a n d sub
je c t to twelve com m an d m en ts, they w ere m ost akin to the Scouts. But their
goal was an ethical socialism to be a tta in e d by a strict p ro le ta ria n discipline,
person al purity, a n d ob edien ce to leaders. Falcons were e x p ected to reject
b ou rgeo is values a n d habits, especially drinking, smoking, a n d trashy e n te r
tainm ent. By 1932 th e organization in V ienna n u m b e re d a b o u t 6 ,0 0 0 .138
T h e Socialist W o rk e r Y outh (SAJ) was m ost im p o rta n t as a transm ission
belt fo r y o un g peop le (ages fo u rte e n to twenty-one) in to the SDAP a n d its
S c h u tz b u n d .139 A bstinence, sexual sublim ation, a n d p uritanism w ere guid
ing principles in th e ethical p re p a ra tio n o f youthful m em bers. T h e ir activity
was restricted to sports a n d education. W ith the ex cep tio n o f electoral can
vassing, they w ere p re v e n te d fro m engaging in d irect political activities on
the g ro u n d s o f political im m atu rity.140 T h e party leadership fe a re d that its
c o n tro l over th e SAJ w ould b e w eakened by political experience, which
w ould incline th e yo u th tow ard radicalism. T h e V ienna organization n u m
b e re d a b o u t 10,500 in 1 9 3 2 .141 It is rem arkable how m uch the SDAP
ex p e c te d from its you th a n d how little confidence it had in it. T he SAJ p ro
gram seem ed to be d irected tow ard the p o stp o n e m e n t o f a d u lth oo d . T hat
o rie n ta tio n m ight have b e e n a p p ro p ria te fo r middle-class youth ab so rb ed
by form al e d ucatio n. It was unrealistic fo r working-class youth who by and
large w orked as full adults fro m th e ir fo u rte e n th year.
T h e sig n ific a n t so c ia liz a tio n o f th e n e x t g e n e r a tio n w as c o n tr o lle d by th e
p a r l y , w h i c h m a d e a v a ila b le ilic c x p e rl.s n e c e s s a r y f o r i h c task. T h e o n ly

The Worker Family: Invasions of the Private Sphere

167

Socialist Worker Youth: a pu re mind in a disciplined body (Der Kuckuck)

fu n c tio n reserved fo r p a re n ts in the h o m e was to o ffer the em otional a ttach


m e n t a n d te n d e rn e ss which biological ties alone could p ro v id e .142 T he
SD A Ps whole effort was revolutionary in an u n in te n d e d way: it b ro u g h t
b o th sexes to g e th e r in myriad activities a n d even e n c o u ra g e d th e n a tu ra l
association o f th e sexes in a m a n n e r previously u n k no w n in Catholic Aus
tria .143 U n derstandably, such proxim ity raised th e sexual question.
Socialist spokesm en h a d a ready answer, o n e th at generally avoided the
questions which arose in practice fro m the daily ex perience o f th eir charges.
T h e party, they m aintained, th ro u g h its age-linked organizations, was he lp
ing y o uth to ex perien ce the w o nd erfu l state o f com radeship, the m ain way
station o n the ro a d to beco m in g m o re fully realized socialists.144 But the sub
j e c t o f sexuality could n o t be tre a te d only in the form o f com m andm ents,
such as th a t o f th e R ote Falken to be constantly p u re in th o u g h t, word, an d
d e e d . 145 T h e discussions o f the u n m e n tio n a b le in the party lite ra tu re very
m u ch followed th e p a tte rn o f writings o n sexuality in general: idealization,
em phasis o n sublim ation th ro u g h sports a n d exercise, a n d an insistence on
th e p o s tp o n e m e n t o f gratification until physical a n d political m atu rity .146 A
closer look at a small selection o f these advisory an d cautionary tracts should
suffice to illustrate the SD A Ps general ap proach.
A particularly m oralizing form o f p re se n tin g the subject o f sexuality to
youth was the p atern al h eart-to -h eart talk. T h e p rom in en t youth leader
O tto K am i/, speaking lo the m ultitu de o f pro letarian fourteen-year-old
boys, allows that sex drives will soon a n n o u n c e (hemsclves with greal

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fo rc e .147 But he cautions th at the n orm al y earning fo r a w om an a n d child is


p re m a tu re fo r them (J u s t as the u n rip e seed o f an apple c a n t p ro d u c e a
tr e e ). Kanitz con tin u es with this n a tu re analogy to w arn against casting
the seed in the w ron g place (the diseased p rostitute) a n d co m m ends purity
until m aturity fo r the sake o f the h ealth o f the children to com e. In a similar
serm o n fo r girls, G e rta M o rb e rg e r assumes th e to n e o f friend a n d com rade.
W hat d o socialist girls expect in th eir relationship with th e op po site sex?148
They are aw are th a t in these chaotic times the te m p ta tio n exists f o r fleeting
relationships. But they w ant n e ith e r th e old restrictive m arriage n o r the new
im morality o f going fro m p a rtn e r to p a rtn e r. They will b rin g socialist life
styles to th eir u n io n with a life c o m pan io n to fu rth e r the full developm ent
o f both.
Sexuality as a rew ard fo r yo u th w ho h a d m a tu re d into responsible young
socialist activists was a co m m o n them e. J o se p h L uitpo ld Stern, a principal
leader in th e socialist c u ltu re m ovem ent, insists th at the sexual question for
youth m ust be c o n fro n te d by the party in an o p e n a n d m atter-of-fact way.149
But he goes n o fu rth e r in his honesty th a n to c o ntrast the p u p p y love o f the
seventeen-year-old, which m ust be c o n tain ed by w holesom e activity in the
m ovem ent, with the love o f m a tu re com rades, which com bines sex and
the great ideas o f hum anity. O th e r w riters are m o re direct on the n e e d for
p o stp o n e m e n t o f gratification. Kanitz p ro p o se d th at every socialist youth
g ro u p be ad d ressed by a socialist physician o n ce o r twice a year a b o ut
h u m a n sexuality, con cep tio n, a n d venereal disease.150 T h e p u rp o se o f such
enlig h te n m e n t was to e n su re th e w holesom eness o f youth a n d to make it
aw are o f th e com plexity o f love, w herein the sexual step was to be the last
one.
Som e w ent so fa r as to p ro p o se that youth be sensitized to the finest
expressions o f th e e ro tic . 151 But all they could advise was to p u t off the
physical un io n o f a couple until the final culm ination o f the relatio n ship
a c rescend o in which physical, em otional, a n d intellectual qualities would
m erge. M arianne Poliak offered a socialist ro m an ce in which the youthful
confusions o f a seventeen-year-old girl are all resolved by the SAJ.152 T h ere
she e n te rs a platonic relationship with a d e dicated y o un g socialist w ho helps
h e r to find a vocation as a tea c h e r o f y o un g children, achieve a sense o f com
munity, a n d a b a n d o n h e r previous desire fo r frivolous love.
T h e m ost active a n d organizationally in te g ra te d working-class youth
were b o m b a rd e d with adm on itio ns against sexual ex perim e n ta tio n an d urgings tow ard abstinence fro m alcohol, tobacco, a n d sex. But, as the following
exam ple illustrates, this led to conflicts betw een party ad m onitions and
o ld er social practices in the w orking class a n d a d d e d to the confusion o f
youth o n sexual m a tte rs .153 In th e autob iog raph ical sketch o f his tra n sfo r
m ation from village poverty a n d working-class unaw areness to socialism, the
later socialist lead er J o s e p h B u ttin g er re c o u n ts the problem s s u rro u n d in g
his sexual in itia tio n .154 At little m o re th a n sixteen he fell in love with a girl
his own age. But they did not begin sexual relations until fo u r to six m onths
later, because he was u n d e r the influence o f the pat tys puritanical teach

The Worker Family: Invasions of the Private Sphere

169

ings re g a rd in g a m inim um age w hen such activities m ight com m ence. Buttin g e r believed this to b e seventeen! His girlfriend was far from happy a bo u t
this delay, a n d la te r o n a b o u t the lim ited satisfaction affo rded by coitus
in te rru p tu s (because o f the unavailability o f contraceptives). A fter several
years o f this relationship the girl m oved to Vienna; B u tting er rem ained
faithful to h e r a n d p racticed abstinence fo r m o re than th re e years. W hat is
revealing a b o u t this a cco u n t is the coexistence o f traditional practices (ini
tiation age) a n d socialist prescription s o n sexuality.
T h a t the party was n o t u naw are o f the limited effectiveness o f its stric
tu re s on sexual pu rity a n d sublim ation can be seen from the disciplinary
m easures taken against party m em bers, especially th e Socialist W o rker
Y outh, f o r unsocialist sexual b e h a v io r.155T h e m ain rem edy fo r such possible
transgressions by socialist y outh was sublim ation th ro u g h body c u ltu re an d
sports, o ffered in the b elief that physical health w ould lead to m ental health
as well.150 In d e e d , nearly m iraculous pow ers were a ttrib u te d to socialist
sports, which w ould n o t build cham pions o r fo ster aggressive com petition
like those o f the bourgeoisie, b u t w ould fu r th e r the d evelopm ent o f collec
tive effort, class solidarity, a n d com rad esh ip a n d at th e same time en co urage
individual physical fulfillm ent (see c h a p te r 5). H ow successful such cold
sh o w erin g was in p re v e n tin g im p u re th o u g h ts a n d deeds we shall see
presently.
T h e socialists p ro m ised liberation o f youth th ro u g h the netw ork o f
party organizations did n o t include sexuality. T h e sexes p articipated
to g e th e r in all the p ro ffe re d activities, b u t n o sexual in teraction was
ex p e c te d to take place. Naivete, puritanism , a n d a d o g ged dete rm in a tio n to
keep all p ow er in th eir own han d s prevailed at the highest level o f party lead
e rs h ip .157 M ino r fu n ctio n aries in d irect contact with adolescent yo u th som e
times dealt with th e palpable sexuality o f th eir charges with toleratio n bu t
m o re generally re m a in e d blind to such tensions in th e ir g ro u p s .158 T h e p a r
tys resp o n se to sexuality in its yo u th organizations, offering m o re o f the
sam e, finally led to a fierce critique o f the whole y ou th p ro g ra m an d p a r
ticularly its avoidance o f th e problem s o f sexuality. F o r a sh o rt time (1 9 3 0 33) the crisis o f y o u th becam e a catchw ord in party circles. W ilhelm Reich
a n d E rn st Fischer w ere the m ain protagonists.
W hat was the n a tu r e o f these critiques o f socialist youth policy? A c o n
stan t in all o f R eichs writings betw een 1929 a n d 1931 was a class analysis
o f th e p ro b le m o f working-class sexuality that w ent as follows159: the d o m i
n a n t b o urg eo is c u ltu re has u sed sexual rep ressio n o f th e w orkers as a m eans
o f subjugation; the poverty o f w orker sexuality (from abstinence to b ru ta l
ity) is m aintain ed by th e conditions u n d e r which w orkers are fo rced to live;
fo r youth, sexual d ep riv atio n has led to a crisis which socialist organizations
have continually evaded; a ttem p ts to sublim ate youthful sexuality th ro u g h
sp o rts a n d o th e r activities have left youth with sexual conflicts that fre
q uently lead to psychological disturbances.
F i s c h e r s a t t a c k o n t h e S D A I * w a s m o r e p o i n t e d . 1110 T h e s o c i a l i s t y o u t h
o r g a n i z a t i o n s , lie c h a r g e d , h a d i n t r o d u c e d r e p r e s s i v e m e c h a n i s m s a g a in s t

17 0

Red Vienna

y outhful sexuality beyo n d those already o p e ra tin g in the d o m in a n t culture.


T h e SDAP h a d falsely p ro m o te d a n d advertised co m rad esh ip as the m eans
o f liberation, suggesting th at it recognized the sexual needs o f youth, which
w ere as g re a t as its econom ic needs. In practice it a tte m p te d to tu r n com
rad esh ip into a puritanical ex p erien ce th at belied its prom ise o f liberation
and, if anything, ex pressed a hostility to sexuality. Fischer singled o u t the
p a rty s intoxication with sp orts as a m ajo r sym ptom o f th e crisis. Sports
could n o t b e su b stitu ted fo r all th at was missing, especially fo r the sexual
drives o f youth. F a r fro m b ein g a satisfactory m eans o f sublim ation, sports
re in fo rc e d th e ideology o f the ruling class.161
T hese fro n tal attacks on the SD A Ps com prehensive youth p ro gram
went to o far. Clearly R eichs a n d F ischers critiques were n o t so m eth ing the
p arty c o uld a b so rb as the ex u b e ra n c e o f y o u n g er m em bers o r as m e re vari
ations o f th e official view. R eichs e q u a tio n o f the p a rty s efforts with b o u r
geois rep ressio n a n d F ischers undisguised attack on the p a rty s idealism, his
charge o f hypocrisy a n d belittling o f th e tre a su re d w o rk ers sports, co n
vinced th e p arty elders th at th e ir critics a n d n o t th eir cultural policy were
in n e e d o f radical m easures. Both m en w ere o n the fringes o f th e party, and
th e lead ersh ip could affo rd n o t to take th e m too seriously, could p arry the
attack in th e tim e -h o n o re d way o f a p ow erful party m achine: by closing
ranks against th e in tru d e rs a n d u n c o n stru c tiv e critics. By 1930 Reich had
ste p p e d bey on d the pale because o f his critical political activities h e had
h e lp e d to organize th e R evolutionre Sozialdem okraten, a faction leaning
to w ard th e com m unists a n d extrem ely critical o f th e SD A Ps passivity on
u n e m p lo y m e n t a n d the grow ing rightist d a n g e r a n d was expelled from
the p a rty .162 Fischer, th o u g h well placed as an e d ito r o f Die Arbeiter-Zeitung,
increasingly m oved to th e left a n d becam e the lead er o f the vociferous but
ineffectual party o p p osition d e m a n d in g action at the final SDAP congress
in O c to b e r 1 9 3 3 .163
N o d o u b t Reich a n d Fischer w ere shrill, b u t in a p arty used to disre
g a rd in g gentle criticism o r co-op tin g it, th e re seem ed to be n o o th e r way. It
a p p e a rs th a t som e w om en, close to th e party b u t n o t in direct functionary
positions, such as th e sociologist K the L e ich ter a n d th e psychologist
Sophie L azersfeld, a g re e d with m u c h o f R eichs a n d F ischers c ritiq u e .164
B ut to have jo in e d in th e attack w ould have led to th e charge o f disloyalty
a n d th e loss o f any influence in the p arty fo r w om en who, because o f their
sex, already felt them selves to be marginal.

P u r i t a n i s m a n d S e x u a l R e a li ti e s

A fte r this som ew hat heady ex p lo ratio n o f Socialist party concep tio n s and
practices, it becom es necessary to tu r n to th e w orkers everyday life. It is a
w orld which the socialist re fo rm e rs claim ed to u n d e rsta n d b e tte r th a n its
d enizens a n d which, they w ere sure, only they could transform . But in reality
th e w ell-m eaning socialist leaders knew little from firsthand exp erience
about w orkers daily lives. T he following attem p t to recon stru ct w orkers
sexual lives as seen fro m below is b o u n d lo be liau m e n ia rv and to rely in

The Worker Family: Invasions of the Private Sphere

171

p a rt o n co n te x t a n d in fe re n c e in place o f direct evidence.165 It is based on


in -dep th oral history interviews, m em oirs, co n te m p o ra ry em pirical studies
o f schoolchildren, surveys o f fem ale factory w orkers, a n d pedagogical
tracts.
In a tte m p tin g to trace th e n a tu re a n d dev elo pm ent o f sexual knowledge,
initiation, a n d practice in th e V iennese w orking class, we m ust re tu rn to the
localities o f p ro le ta ria n socialization: the family a n d th e street, which played
a d o m in a n t role, regardless o f stratification, within the w orking class.166
C o m m o n d e n o m in a to rs o f family life e x p erien ced by p ro le ta ria n children
a n d yo u th w ere scant m eans a n d resources, overcrow ded living spaces, an d
re stra in t a n d c o n tro l exercised by p a te rn a l/m a te rn a l authority. A family life
o f scarcity p r e p a r e d children fo r life in the w ider econom ic a n d ideological
system o f do m in a tio n a n d su b o rd in a tio n a n d set the p a tte rn o f the genderspecific roles o f working-class m en a n d women.
W h e re a n d how did sexuality e n te r in? In the typical w ork er domicile all
family m em bers slept in th e o n e crow ded b ed ro o m ; family life was c o n
d u c te d in th e kitchen. This rem ained tru e even a m o n g yo ung couples who
w ere f o rtu n a te e n o u g h to acqu ire an a p a rtm e n t in the new municipal h o u s
ing, w here p a re n ts a n d ch ild ren still shared the bed ro o m , a n d family life
shifted fro m th e kitchen (now to o small) to the living ro o m .167 In the te n e
m ents, w here 90 p e rc e n t o f w orker families lived, beds were shared by samesexed children, a n d th e youngest child typically slept in the dou b le bed
betw een th e p a re n ts (som etim es to the age o f te n ).168 D espite a decided
avoidance o f nudity by parents, u n d e r such conditions o f overcrow ding
early c o n fro n ta tio n s w ith sexuality a p p e a r to have be e n unav o id ab le.169
N o tw ith stan d in g the reluctan ce o f oral history subjects to re m e m b e r o r
speak a b o u t sexual m a tters o r th eir reticence a b o u t having seen o r known
anything, sexuality seems to have b e e n e n c o u n te re d in the following ways:
th ro u g h direct observation o f the prim al ac t ; in a vaguer sense th ro u g h
w akefulness resu lting fro m adult night-tim e traffic in th e bed ro o m ; th ro u g h
h o m e o e ro tic ex p e rie n c e with sibling b e d p artners; a n d th ro u g h th e ex p e
rien ce o f o ld e r siblings a n d n eig hb o rs in the dense netw ork o f te n e m e n t
life. Sexual know ledge thus ac q u ire d was n o t likely to b e discussed in the
p ro le ta ria n family. T h e subject was taboo, a n d ch ild ren w ere ex p ected
to practice a ritual blindness o r ig n orance o f th e subject ex p e c te d n o t
to see th eir p a re n ts half-exposed bodies d u rin g ablutions o r to express
anything b u t ig n o ran ce a b o u t th eir m o th e r s preg nan cy a n d the arrival o f
a new sibling.
F u r th e r light is sh ed o n socialization in the family a n d sexuality by two
c o n te m p o ra ry studies o f pre- a n d p o stp u b e sc e n t working-class schoolgirls.
M arg arete Rada, a star g ra d u a te o f th e Psychological In stitu te o f th e U ni
versity o f V ienna c o d ire c te d by C h a rlo tte Biihler, p resen ts a p ictu re o f early
m a tu ra tio n in which girls o f limited intellectual know ledge o r interest
revealed an u n e x p e c te d sophistication about sexual m a tte rs.170 O n the
whole th e girls w ere well info rm ed about m en stru atio n , pregnancy, in te r
course, illegitimacy, p a ra g ra p h I I I, blood tests to d e te rm in e paternity, and
pre- and extram arital relations What was the source ol this knowledge?

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Red Vienna

W ithout exception, R ada maintains, it cam e fro m the daily ex perience in the
hom e: the p a re n ta l act in the sh ared b e d ro o m , the b irth o f y o u n g er siblings,
the m isfo rtu n e o f an o ld e r sister, discussions am o n g fem ale family m em
bers a n d neighbors. F o r a small p e rc e n ta g e o f girls, this know ledge was su p
p le m e n te d by sexual e x perim en tation .
F o r th e girls in h e r charge, R ada observes, sexuality was n o t som ething
mysterious a n d fo rb id d e n to be w hispered a b ou t. It was talked a b o u t only
rarely and th e n w ithout any sense o f reserve o r sham e (as o n e would find
a m o n g middle-class girls o f th at age). In short, fo r working-class girls sex
uality was a m atter-of-fact p a rt o f th e ir daily lives, which was a cumulative
p a rt o f th eir ex p erien ce fro m the earliest years. O n e o th e r finding deserves
m en tio n . Away fro m school the girls h a d little supervision, with b o th p a r
ents freq u en tly w orking a n d nearly h a lf o f th e girls spen din g even Sundays
o n th eir o w n .171 But, as Sieder makes clear, even in hom es w here th e re was
p a re n ta l supervision the c o n tro l o f hom ew ork by the father, for
instan ce the co m m o n d ete rm in a n ts o f scarcity a n d crow ding prevailed.172
H ild eg ard H e tz e r seconds the findings o f R ada in h e r study o f workingclass children a n d y o u th .171 But she draw s a distinction betw een the caredfo r a n d u nca re d -fo r. It is am o ng th e latte r th at she finds n o t only ready
conversance with sexual subjects b u t also a variety o f sexual experiences
including in te rc o u rse (fourteen- to sixteen-year-old girls). T he cared-for,
she claims, have m o re self-control over th e ir drives a n d are m o re given to
intellectual a n d cultural p u rsu its.174 But h e r categories are vague: by caredf o r she m eans b ou rgeo is o r skilled elite workers; by u n c a re d -fo r she sug
gests the w orking class as a whole. Both H e tz e r a n d Rada, following the lead
o f th eir m e n to r, C h arlo tte Biihler, re g a rd sexual precocity early knowl
ed g e a n d early c o n fro n ta tio n with p ractice as the cause o f intellectual and
cultural im poverishm ent an d o f generally low expectations am o n g workingclass youth and, m ost im p o rta n t, as th e so u rce o f u n c o n tro lle d sexual
e x p re ssio n .175 At th e sam e tim e b o th observed th a t these same yo u th lived
u p to th eir responsibilities at work (school-leaving age was fo u rte e n ) a n d at
ho m e. Both singled o u t precocio us sexuality as a social disability o n the o ne
h an d , yet d e m o n s tra te d o n the o th e r th at the girls gave n o special im p o r
tan ce to sexuality in th eir conversations o r interactions bu t in teg rated the
subject in to th e ir daily lives.
C o uld it be that H e tz e r a n d R ada failed to see that working-class child
h o o d a n d yo u th d e m a n d e d a precocity in all things because ad u lth o o d , o r
at least its heaviest responsibilities, cam e so early? T hey did adm it th a t co n
tro l over drives by th e c a re d -fo r (who c o u ld co n tin u e th eir studies) also went
with childishness a n d d epen den cy . O n e gets th e im pression that these two
studies c re a te d a p ro b le m viewed o u t o f context fo r which only the ideal
ism o f th e SDAP a n d its p ro g ra m s o ffered the solution. A n o th e r way o f
looking at con d ition s in th e p ro le ta ria n h o m e would have b een to c o n fro n t
th e general d ep riv ation am o n g working-class y outh, fo r which n e ith e r psy
chological theories n o r socialist play g ro u p s a n d youth organizations could
offer an alternative.

The Worker Family: Invasions of the Private Sphere

173

In th eir em phasis on the p role ta ria n ho m e as the source for sexual


know ledge o f th eir charges, R ada a n d H e tz e r slighted the at least equally
im p o rta n t influence o f the street. Despite middle-class alarmist d en un cia
tions o f the street as the source o f criminality, an d despite the socialists
o rganizing efforts to brin g working-class children u n d e r the p ro tectio n and
c o n tro l o f ex p e rts a n d the party, the street rem ain ed a principal place o f
socialization.176 In th e p ro x im ate street o r lot (as distinct from distant u n su
pervised u rb a n niches), w here girls c ould readily be recalled by their m o th
ers fo r dom estic chores, girls and boys mixed freely in a rich com bination
o f trad itio nal and im provised play.17' It was th eir territory, th eir property,
in which they le a rn e d a b o u t th e ruling class th ro u g h its agents; a b o u t dif
ferences betw een ch ild ren o f th eir own class a n d those o f better-off w ork
ers, who had to disobey p aren tal c o m m an d m en ts to participate; a n d about
th e survival strategies necessary fo r th eir adult w orking lives.178 R ough
h orseplay a n d re p e a te d association also, it w ould seem, was a physical learn
ing ex p erien ce fo r b o th sexes. It should be seen in com bination with the
long-standing observations m ade a b o ut the hom e, especially fo r the p u b es
cent, as p a rt o f the p re lu d e exp erien ce o f an ad u lt life. What the socialist
re fo rm e rs re g a rd e d as a seductive stim ulation o f sexual drives, the children
o f the stre e t e x p e rie n c e d as living a n d grow ing up.
Y oung people continually d ip p e d back in later years into th eir sto re
h ou se o f street experiences, o r these simply flowed along with m aturation.
As u n em p lo y m en t in the early 1930s affected close to 50 percent o f young
w orkers betw een sixteen an d twenty-five, m any im provised strategies for
survival based o n the stre e t w isdom learn ed e a rlie r.179 A long the banks o f
the D anu b e a n d especially the L ob au (dubbed the p ro le ta ria n Riviera ),
w here sun, water, a n d n a tu re w ere free, colonies o f you ng w orkers sprang
up. T hey lived th e re in the fair seasons a n d followed a great variety o f cul
tural, athletic, a n d political interests, fo u n d occasional work in the gray m ar
ket, an d m ade plans fo r th e fu tu re. Sexual relations th ere were as u n s u p e r
vised as was the rest o f life.
W hat was th e n o rm al age f o r w orkers to b ecom e sexually active? N o one
can give an answ er based o n em pirical evidence. But it certainly was no t the
prescriptive twenty, twenty-two, o r tw enty-four years o f age that socialist
re fo rm e rs w ere so fo n d o f qu o tin g as a p p ro p ria te to the health an d devel
o p m e n t o f female sexual o rg a n s.180 We have already learn ed about Butting e r s initiation at seventeen; his later e x perience is instructive as well.181 As
a socialist yo uth lead er in St. Veit in C arinthia, he fell in love with a girl f o u r
teen years old. T h e relationship was kept secret for a year because it would
have seem ed u n n a tu r a l. She was unusually m atu re, having g one to work
imm ediately a fte r leaving school. All the same, B uttinger hints that the com
m unity was alarm ed th o u g h no t o u tra g e d w hen it learned a bo u t the liaison.
Two im p o rtan t insights can be gained from this case. First, that an o p e n sex
ual relationship at the age o f fo u rte e n o r fifteen was out o f the ordin ary
(though his initiation at seventeen raised n o eyebrows). Second, that even
th o u gh B uttinger was an exem plary p ro d uct o f the socialist refo rm m ove

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Red Vienna

m en t a n d as serious a n d ded icated a y o ung socialist as the party could h o p e


for, his m ost private life was go verned by traditional no rm s r a th e r than by
party strictures, o r the la tter at m ost led to personal conflicts.
F o r m ost working-class youth, b ein g sexually active also b ro u g h t u n c e r
tainties a n d p ro blem s in its wake. In discussing the fifty most c om m on ques
tions a n d prob lem s b ro u g h t to the sexual consultation clinics, Reich m en
tions m e n stru a tio n , p re m a tu re ejaculation, b irth control, failure to achieve
satisfaction, fre q u e n c e o f coitus, age o f initiation, a n d fo rced abstin e n c e .182
V ictor Frankel, a physician active in the m unicipal you th consultation clin
ics, re c o u n ts th a t o f two th o u sa n d clients seen d u rin g a three-year period,
on e -th ird suffered fro m sexual p ro b le m s.183
Lest B u ttin g e rs case a p p e a r as an ab e rra tio n , we m ust look fu rth e r for
clues to sexuality within socialist organizations themselves. N otw ithstanding
the socialists stress o n a h ig h er kind o f coeducational purity in organiza
tions like the R ote Falken (age ten to fou rteen), S ied ers oral-history sub
je c ts re c o u n t that, because o f th e lack o f space a n d privacy in th eir w orker
domiciles to m eet the needs o f friendship, love, an d sex, the R ote Falken
a n d Socialist W o rk er Y outh (age fo u rte e n to twenty-one) w ere co nsidered
attractive places to m eet the op po site sex.184 It was precisely fo r this reason
that working-class p a re n ts w ere cautious a b o u t letting th eir d a u g h te rs p a r
ticipate in mixed groups, expecially on overnight trip s.185 This caution was
n o t simply a m a tte r o f hypocrisy o n th e p a rt o f parents, who knew full well
that th e ir d a u g h te rs could n o t be p ro te c te d fro m a variety o f sexual ex p e
riences at the w orkplace. It m ust be seen as p a rt o f the sense o f respectability
p resen t in virtually all sectors o f th e w orking class th at may be sum m arized
as th e ability to m anage th e private life o f the family within th e restraints
placed o n it by society a n d circu m stances.186
T h e coeducational Socialist W orker Y outh was given the key role in the
socialists p ro je c t o f w eaning malleable y ou th th e socialists o f to m o r
row fro m th e au th o rity o f working-class p a re n ts.187 In the right-wing press
the o rganization was sland ered as a h o tb e d o f sexual permissiveness. In real
ity the y o u th leaders (or c h a irm e n ) p re a c h e d abstinence fro m alcohol,
tobacco, a n d kitsch as well as sexual purity, an d d iscouraged individual rela
tionships as disruptive o f collective experience. Bimonthly lectures o n sex
ual pro blem s were aim ed at re d u c in g the in te rfe re n c e o f sex with o rg an i
zational aims a n d work. M em oirs a n d oral histories suggest, however, that
sexual expressions am o ng the socialist you th fo u n d an o u tlet despite the
pro scrip tio ns o f th e puritanical leaders.
In th e n u m e ro u s su m m er cam ps sp o n so red by the SDAP, erotic ex p e
riences d u rin g the sem inude m o rn in g ablutions o f b o th sexes o r in inn o c
uou s folk dancing, fo r instance, did take p la c e .188 In the te n t settlem ents o f
u nem plo yed y ou th in the L o b a u a n d a m o n g those able to jo in them only on
w eekends, th e re was a tre m e n d o u s variety o f sp o n ta n e o u s activities. But, as
o n e yo uth lead er recalls, in betw een, boys and th eir girlfriends disap
p ea re d fo r a while beh ind th e hu sh es. 18'1W hen couples w ere fo rm ed, how
ever, they te n d e d to leave the SA). W hatever sexual activity prevailed in the

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175

organ ization , it was restricted to the out-of-doors d u rin g the tem p erate sea
sons. A cco rd ing to Safrian a n d Sieder, the first genital e n c o u n te rs o f SA)
to o k place a fte r th e age o f e ig h te e n .190 Even th en, fear o f pregnancy was
ever p re se n t am o n g th e you ng w om en, giving a sense o f reality to the d a n
gers o f sexuality p re a c h e d by the socialist le a d e rs.191
N o d o u b t th e socialists in tro d u c tio n o f sex ed ucation in their org an i
zations is praisew orthy, b u t the c o n te n t a n d p u rp o se o f their actual efforts
raise serious d o u b ts a b o u t w h e th e r th eir inten tio ns were to enlighten their
y oung m em bers. In a seminal statem ent o n sexual edu catio n , O tto Kanitz
m ad e it clear that, aside from im p artin g know ledge a b o u t re p ro d u c tio n , sex
e d ucatio n should p re p a re the young fo r the necessary sub o rd inatio n o f
th e ir sex drive to the laws o f socialist ethics.192 A fo rm e r m em b er o f the
C o op erativ e o f Socialist T each ers explains what this m eant in practice: fourteen-year-olds w ere im pressed with the responsibility to be assum ed in later
sexual relations, a n d o ld e r youth w ere le c tu re d on new theories o f child
h o o d sexuality, the O e d ip u s com plex, a n d sexual taboos; bu t in general,
th e re was little advance bey on d the birds a n d th e b ees. ' 98 Similarly, in a
p am p h let in te n d e d fo r socialist teachers a n d youth leaders, the child psy
chologist J o s e p h F rie d ju n g did not go beyond the tim e-w orn animal anal
ogies in rec o m m e n d in g w hat teachers should tell th eir pupils. H e was
extrem ely vague a b o u t what m ight be said to adolescents o th e r th an the
usual cautions a b o u t p ro stitu tio n a n d the responsibilities o f p a r e n th o o d .194
In the SD A Ps a p p ro a c h to the w orkers intim ate sp here as in o th e r
aspects o f the p a rty s cultural p rog ram , th e re is little evidence o f the fre
quently claim ed close relationship to A dlerian individual psychology (see
also c h a p te r 4 ).195 N o d o u b t the idea o f h u m a n malleability subject to in te r
vention a n d im p ro v em en t was attractive to socialist leaders a n d experts
em b ark ed o n creatin g n e u e M en sch en . But if on e looks over the p apers
delivered at the C ongress o f Marxist Individual Psychology held in V ienna
in 1927, o n e is h a rd p u t to find d escriptions o f actual application a n d p ra c
tice.195 Instead, th e re is a pervasive confidence th a t individual psychology
will solve th e sexual p ro blem s o f working-class m en a n d w omen. Such bald
assertions a re s e co n ded by intellectual o bfuscation that can hardly be taken
fo r A dlerian practice. In a p a m ph let o n m arriage d irected at teachers,
Sophie L azersfeld (a leading individual psychologist) discusses the ambiva
lence o f wom en overcom e by the choice betw een being a c om rade o r
m a d o n n a to th eir m ates a n d the d an g ers fo r w om en o f becom ing G alatea
to P ygm alion.197As in terestin g as such subjects m ight have been in th eir own
right, particularly to a small g ro u p o f e d u c a te d female professionals, one
finds it difficult to relate th em to the e d u catio n o f working-class w omen, the
realities o f working-class m arriages, a n d the n arro w g e n d e r roles assigned
to w omen.
W hat clues are th e re to the sex life o f adult Viennese workers? In view
o f the early sexual m a tu ra tio n a n d onset o f adu lt responsibilities, it is not
su rp risin g that sexual in te rc o u rse and cohabitation b efo re m arriage (often
fo r many years) seem s to have been widely p ra c tic e d .198 From the point o f

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view o f socialist reform ers, this b ehavior was exem plary o f th e disorderly
living a m o n g w orkers they aim ed to correct. In working-class n e ig h b o r
h oo d s it was a c cep ted as p a rt o f the co u rtsh ip p a tte rn leading to m arriage.
A n u m b e r o f oral-history subjects r e p o r te d th at th eir p a re n ts gave their
tacit c o n sent to th e ir sexual relationship by allowing the couple to live on
the prem ises. T h e choice o f m arriage p a rtn e rs was largely in th e han d s o f
the y o u n g people. A m on g the desirable characteristics looked fo r in their
prospective m ate, w om en o ften m e n tio n e d safe em ploym ent a n d fidelity.199
It was custom ary fo r c o u rtin g couples to get m arried w hen th e woman
becam e p re g n a n t. T h e cerem ony itself an d the w edding night seldom
a ttain ed th e im p o rta n c e given to th e m by the middle class.200
T h e best so u rce o f indirect in fo rm atio n a b o u t sexuality can be fo u n d in
studies o f the b irth ra te in the w orking class.201 In th e g en e ra tio n o f women
b o rn a fte r 1900, th e m ajority h a d only o n e child a n d virtually n o n e m ore
th a n two.202 This feat was accom plished w ithout the assistance o f the
municipality o r socialist re fo rm e rs by the couples a n d especially by the
w om en themselves. It stem m ed from the recognition by w orkers that their
aspirations to o r m aintainance o f a h ig h e r sta n d a rd o f living d e p e n d e d on
a sm aller family size.203 M oreover, V iennese pro le ta ria n w om en, m ost o f
w hom w ere em ployed fo r wages, app arently recognized that the only pos
sible re d u c tio n in the triple b u rd e n o f work, housew ork, a n d child care
could be achieved th ro u g h red u cin g the n u m b e r o f c h ild ren .204
It is in the d o m ain o f b irth co n tro l, w here p ro letarian couples needed
the m ost assistance, th at th e SDAP failed them m ost abysmally. T h e m ethods
o f c o n tra c e p tio n available to w orkers were primitive, unreliable, im pover
ishing o f the coital act, a n d d an gerou s. W orkers w ho had served in the army
h a d e x p e rie n c e d com m ercial sex a n d beco m e acq u ain ted with condom s.
B ut th e re is little evidence th a t these o r o th e r ru b b e r contraceptives were
used, partly because o f inconvenience (the absence o f privacy to apply these
im plem ents) b u t mainly because o f cost.205 C oitus in te rru p tu s is the form al
tech n iq u e m ost freq uen tly m e n tio n e d in m em oirs a n d oral histories.206 N ot
only was this fo rm o f p revention unreliable, it also d e p e n d e d o n th e skill and
g oo d will o f the male p a rtn e r. C o n tro l a n d re d u c tio n o f births probably
d e p e n d e d at least as m uch on ab o rtio n s re so rte d to by w om en regardless o f
the d a n g e r to th eir h ealth a n d o f falling foul o f the law. It was a m ethod
totally co n tro lle d by the w om en themselves. In a n u m b e r o f cases o f a b o r
tions by m a rrie d w om en th a t cam e to c o u rt, the p ro c e d u re h a d been carried
o u t w ith o ut th e h u sb a n d even know ing th a t his wife was p re g n a n t.207
T h o u g h a b o rtio n was practiced widely as a form o f b irth con tro l, it was
a th re a t to w o m e n s h ealth a n d a bre a c h o f th e law. But th ere are indications
th at p a ra g ra p h 144 was fully subscribed to mainly by the Catholic clergy and
d ie h a rd leaders o f the C hristian Social party. Both the n u m b e r and n o to ri
ety o f a b o rtio n trials a p p e a r to have declined sharply in th e fifteen years
a fte r the war.208 In the sixteen case files fo r the 1 9 2 1 -3 2 that I fo u n d in the
m unicipal archives, n o n e o f the w om en was actually p u nish ed for having
a tte m p te d o r c arried ou t an a bo rtio n. In all o f diem actual sentences were

The Worker Family: Invasions of the Private Sphere

177

re d u c e d by the ju d g e s (th rou g h a provision fo r leniency) to one-year p ro


bation, giving child care, health, work, a n d family obligations as the re a
sons.20'1 O nly midwives with p rio r a rrest o r conviction reco rd s w ere given
p riso n term s o f two to n ine m onths. T h e V iennese ju d g e s seem to have
balked at p un ish in g w om en who had u n d e rta k e n these desp erate acts.210
T h e h u m a n e consid eration s o f these pillars o f society suggests th a t the
SDAP missed an im p o rta n t o p p o rtu n ity to launch a bro ad-b ased campaign
against p a ra g ra p h 144.
Freq uen tly a crisis d eveloped in the sexual relations o f couples a fter the
d esired n u m b e r o f c h ild ren (one o r two) h a d be e n b orn . T h en wives faced
th e cruel choice o f denying conjugal rights to th eir h usbands o r having
re c o u rse to th e m aker o f angels. 211 T he following case is typical o f this
d ilem m a a n d throw s a clear light on the c o n tex t o f w orker sexual practice.212
J o s e p h a P., b o rn in 1902, was a dom estic servant who saved fo r h e r dowry
a n d looked fo r a h u sb and . She re jected o n e h an d so m e suitor because he was
to o sexually forw ard, as she w anted to avoid th e fate o f h e r m o th er, who
gave b irth to six children. J o s e p h a chose an o ld e r m an in the h o p e o f having
few er children. H e r relatio nsh ip was co n su m m ated b efo re h e r m arriage,
a fte r which she m oved in to h e r m other-in-law s tw o-room flat. T h e couple
slept in the b e d ro o m , which they were forced to share with the h u s b a n d s
b ro th e r, a n d two ch ild ren w ere b o rn th e re d u rin g th eir four-year residence.
A fter the b irth o f h e r secon d child, J o s e p h a refu sed to have in tercou rse with
h e r h u sband ; she succeed ed only partly since a third child was b o rn .213
Clearly, living in c ra m p e d q u a rte rs with p a re n ts a n d in-laws, a n d the result
ing lack o f privacy, p u t limits o n sexual expressiveness a n d the use o f
contracep tiv es.214
U n d e r the typical conditions o f working-class life, n o t the prom iscuity
fe a re d by socialist re fo rm e rs a n d city fathers, b u t a sexual life o f deprivation
seems to have b een the n orm . O n e can only speculate th ro u g h indirect evi
d e n c e a b o u t th e quality o f such sexuality. L e ic h te rs survey o f female indus
trial w orkers.m akes clear th at the triple b u rd e n on w om en was n o t only
physically b u t also psychologically debilitating.215 A total workday o f some
sixteen h o u rs fo r the m ajority o f w om en a n d a life in general characterized
by haste a n d devoid o f all privacy left little tim e a n d energy fo r conjugal
intimacy. T o these restrain ts m ust be a d d e d th e stresses o f unem ploym ent,
which rose astronom ically d u rin g the d epressio n a n d frequently m ade
w om en the sole breadw inners. Several studies reveal th at rising u nem ploy
m en t h a d an adverse effect o n the g re a te r fre e d o m o f male workers a n d seri
ously im paired th e ir sense o f identity a n d o f daily rhythm , leading to general
psychological d e p re ssio n .216
Admittedly, o n e does have to re a d betw een the lines o f such evidence,
bu t it suggests that w o rker sexuality a n d the general conditions o f th eir lives
w ere closely in te rd e p e n d e n t. F ro m this distant vantage p oint it ap pears that
changes in the sexual lives o f w orkers had to o c c u r at th e w orkplace b efore
th e b ed ro o m . T h e o rderly a n d d ecent w orker family the socialists atte m p te d
to c reate d e p e n d e d on an im provem ent in the quality o f life p e r se and on

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a basic change in g e n d e r relations, r a th e r th a n o n m oral uplift. N o refo rm


e ffort could succeed, it would seem, th a t d id n o t begin to accept the work
e r s prim ary su bcultures as a p o in t o f d e p a rtu re a n d allow initiatives fo r
change to sp rin g fro m th e m .217
Virtually every fe a tu re o f the SDAP a n d m unicipal lead ers a tte m p t to h a r
ness sexuality to a new socialist w o rk ers c u ltu re was c e n te re d o n controlling
a n d re defin ing the ro le o f girls a n d w om en. In th eir view o f females as crea
tu res o f instinct, these leaders m irro re d the attitu d es o f middle-class
re fo rm e rs a n d m oralists o f previous gen e ra tio n s.218 T h e m ain function
assigned to w om en in th e d esired o rderly w ork er families was to act as affec
tive c e n te rs.219 As O tto B auer p u t it, th e wife was to organize the ho m e in
such a way th at h e r h u sb a n d w ould find it a place o f peace, privacy, and
c o m fo rt.220 T h e role assigned to w om en within the SDAP was equally cir
cum scribed a n d tertiary. W ith th e e xcep tio n o f a small n u m b e r o f very vis
ible functionaries, the typical fem ale activist was relegated to social welfare
activities closely resem bling middle-class sociability, b u t at a tan g en t to the
real (political) life o f th e party.221 T o a large ex tent, the working-class w om
a n s m arriage to the p a rty was a m eans o f rein forcin g a n d en hancing the
role she was e x p e c te d to play in th e family.
W h at explanatio n is th e re fo r such a restricted role assignm ent fo r the
a p p re h e n sio n s expressed by male leaders a b o u t female sexuality in a c o n
stant h a rp in g o n prom iscuity, a n d fo r th e ir failure to deal with actual p r o b
lems o f w om en such as b irth control? In p a rt the answ er may be fo u n d in
th e middle-class values a n d a ttitud es o f th e principal male socialist leaders,
which at times b o rd e re d o n misogyny. A few illustrations should suffice. In
his capacity as a sen io r m e m b e r o f th e V iennese m edical faculty, Julius Tand le r o p p o se d th e adm ission o f fem ale stu den ts a n d m ade it difficult fo r them
d u rin g exam inations by asking questions a b o u t m ale genitalia to em barrass
them . As a pow erful city councillor, h e refu sed financial su p p o rt to c o e d u
cational su m m e r cam ps a n d fo rb a d k in d e rg a rte n teachers to w ear dresses
th a t revealed knees a n d calves.222 O tto Kanitzs views on sexuality w ere col
o re d by his fo rc e d c h ild h oo d conversion to Catholicism a n d influenced by
the C atholic e d u c a to r Fried rich W ilhelm Forster. Kanitz spoke o f the
im perative o f c reatin g an ethical will based o n purity a n d self-denial an d
even so u g h t to pop u larize M arxist th o u g h t in the fo rm o f catechism s.223
O tto B a u e r lived like a liberal Burger o f his time. H e m a rrie d a w om an ten
years o ld e r th a n h e a n d h a d a m istress ten years younger. Friedrich A dler
p racticed th e d o u b le sta n d a rd by re sc u in g youn g w om en sexual affairs
which h e d escribed in detail to his estra n g e d wife.224
It is n o t surp risin g that n o n e o f these m en advanced positions o n female
sexuality th a t w ould have b ro u g h t them into conflict with the d o m in a n t cul
tu re. O n e is rem ind ed, by co ntrast, o f Leon B lum s treatise o n m arriage o f
1907, in which h e viewed m onogam y as th e culm ination o f sexual ex p e ri
m en ta tio n a n d ex p e rie n c e by both m en a n d w om en, and o f the fact that he
allowed th e book to be re p rin te d in 1937, when he was prim e m inister.225

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179

T h e limitations o f th e socialists tran sfo rm atio nal plans o n the sexual


q u estio n may be viewed fro m a n o th e r perspective. F rom the beginning o f
the rep ub lic th e SDAP e n g ag ed in th e class struggle o n the political and cul
tu ral fro n t. A fte r 1927, as the e x trap arliam en tary in tentions o f the political
op p o sitio n becam e m o re a p p a re n t a n d B a u e rs c o n cep tio n o f the balance
o f class fo rces m o re unrealistic, the SDAP increasingly r e tre a te d to the cul
tu ral realm in the enclave o f Vienna. Even w hen the signs o f a final political
co n fro n ta tio n becam e unavoidable, B auer a n d o th e r leaders refu sed to con
fro n t th eir enem ies. T h e rising in F e b ru a ry 1934 was a tragic postscript in
which th e w orkers suddenly becam e th eir own leaders in a d o o m ed
resistance.226
T h e sam e paralysis o f will o n the cultural fro n t may help to explain the
socialists timid position o n m a tters like b irth co n tro l a n d abo rtio n. T o have
taken a forceful stan d th ro u g h the m unicipal council on these a n d related
issues w ould have led to a c o n fro n ta tio n with th e Catholic ch urch, which was
also th e po w er b e h in d th e political opposition. As we have seen, th e SDAP
re fu se d to take a position outside constitutional legality on th e Schnitzler,
B ettau er, a n d B aker sex scandals. In fighting against p a ra g ra p h 144 in p a r
liam ent, it relied o n th e m ost in n o c u o u s form ulations in the h o p e o f gaining
a com pro m ise fro m an u n c o m p ro m isin g o p p o n e n t. T he party was no t p re
p a re d to mobilize th e la rg e r public o n issues th at clearly h a d wide appeal.
N o d o u b t th e leaders w ere c o rre c t in assum ing that going beyond the
legal g r o u n d o f p arliam entary a n d party action w ould b rin g o n a civil war
o n th e cu ltu ral fro n t leading to a final show dow n.227 T h a t risk the socialists
w ere n o t p r e p a re d to take.
Som e nagging questions rem ain. Was the p u rp o se o f the socialists m o r
alizing a m eans o f dispelling th e p o p u la r middle-class view that workers
w ere p ro m iscuo u s savages, was it rhetorical, o r was it p a rt o f a strategy to
uplift th e w orking class?228 I f anything, th e socialists em phasis on the d a n
gers o f prom iscuity a n d degen eracy am o n g w orkers re in forced the hostile
image o f disorderly living a m o n g them . T he cam paign to create orderly,
d e c e n t w orker families th ro u g h p ro c e d u re s outlined by the party d em ean ed
the existing family s tru c tu re s a n d sexual behavior in th e working-class com
munity. It c o n stitu te d a refusal to accept the fact th at n o rm s a n d standards
o f b ehavior a n d a sense o f respectability already existed there. In this refusal
to see the value o f existing subcultures, the A u strian socialists w ere n o dif
fe re n t fro m re fo rm e rs elsew here in d en ig ratin g the conditions which were
to be tra n sfo rm e d by institutional intervention. T hey did believe that sex
uality h a d a place in th e c re a tio n o f a total socialist c u ltu re based on the
w orker family, a n d asserted th at sexual m o res a n d practices w ere as m utable
as any o th e r aspect o f the w o rkers lives. But socialist m eans o f uplifting the
w orkers o f m aking th em n e u e M ensch en did n o t go beyond c o n d e m
natio n o f existing life-styles, adm onitions, a n d directives fo rm u la te d by
leaders at a great distance from the aren as o f working-class life.

CHAPTER 7

Conclusion
Against the idea o f force, the force o f ideas.
A u stro m a rx isl a p h o rism

In th e course o f my ex am ination I may have o verem phasized the exagger


ations a n d co ntrad iction s in the A ustrian socialists claims a n d accom plish
m ents a n d the lim ited scope o f th e ir ven ture. T h at these w ere e m b e d d e d in
the plans a n d dev elo p m en t o f th e cultural ex p e rim e n t has, I believe, been
d e m o n s tra te d in detail. W e o u g h t to rem in d ourselves that despite serious
practical failings, fu n d a m e n ta l flaws in co nception, a n d far-reach in g d a n
gers, re d V ienna succeeded as n o o th e r m etro p olis h a d in im provising a n d
innovating social refo rm s a n d cu ltu ral activities fo r its w orking class within
the political limits o f a polity hostile to such efforts.
T h e SD A Ps cultural p re p a ra tio n fo r a socialist fu tu re in the p re se n t was
u n iq ue. I t w ent bey on d traditional social dem ocratic re fo rm legislation in
seeking to encom pass th e V iennese w orking class th ro u g h an intricate n e t
work o f party cultural organizations a n d activities that had b o th an ed u ca
tional c o n te n t a n d symbolic force. W hile critical o f the c o n ception a n d exe
cu tio n o f this p ro g ram , one still marvels at th e d arin g vision, fo r instance,
o f th e public h o u sin g palaces as total w o rk er environ m en ts con tainin g laun
dries, bath h ou ses, kin dergarten s, libraries, m eeting room s, swimming
pools, cooperativ e stores, y o u th a n d m o th e rs consultation clinics, and
m u ch m ore. T h e p u rp o se o f these enclaves was to provide the w orkers with
a setting fo r th e political c u ltu re th e A ustrom arxist special form ula
leading to th e m a tu ra tio n o f the w orking class th ro u g h which the co n
sciousness necessary f o r th e c reatio n o f n e u e M en schen could be
instilled. O n e also c a n n o t b u t be im pressed by the forty o r so cultural o rg a
nizations striving to engage a n d elevate the w orkers d u rin g th eir newly
gained leisure time an d thereby to bind th em to th e party. The c om bination
o f this co m p reh en siv e cultural netw ork a n d the SD A Ps political an d trad e
u n io n stre n g th w ere form idable. Bui, as I have a tte m p te d lo illustrate, the

Conclusion

181

p o ten tial o f th e V iennese cultural ex p erim en t was n o t realized. The obsta


cles faced a n d c re a te d by th e socialists in carrying o u t th eir p ro ject were
b o th political a n d cultural.

P o litic a l L im its
T h e SDAP e m e rg e d as a mass party a fte r the collapse o f th e old regim e at
th e e n d o f the war. Its fu tu re pow er a n d role w ere largely shaped d u rin g
1 9 1 8 -1 9 , w hen politics w ere in flux a n d th e n a tu re o f the new republic was
yet to be d ete rm in e d . T he m ost dynamic political force at the time was the
w o rkers councils, a partly org an ized mass m ovem ent o f w orkers a nd d e m o
bilized soldiers with revolutionary aims that w ent beyond establishing a
republic o n a capitalist base. T h e councils w ere influenced by the Bolshevik
Revolution a n d th e b rie f revolutionary regim es in Bavaria and H ungary. In
V ienna, particularly, w h ere a fledgling C om m unist party was newly active,
th e councils th re a te n d e d to b ecom e the directin g force o f th e masses o f
w orkers, who w ere largely politically u n o rg a n iz e d .1 The SDAP, thus th re a t
e n e d fro m th e left, adroitly m an euv ered the V ienna w orkers council into
accepting the principle o f p ro le ta ria n dem ocracy, which allowed the social
ists to b in d the com m unists a n d o th e r radical g ro u p s to decisions by m a jo r
ity rule. By th e a u tu m n o f 1919, with the co u n te rre v o lu tio n successful in
H un g ary , th e councils w ere p u sh e d to the sidelines. T h e C o n stitu en t Assem
bly, which h a d b e e n elected in F ebruary, was able to function a n d secure the
new republic w ithout f u r th e r th re a t o f an alternative so urce o f power.
T h e socialists h a d su cceed ed in keeping revolution fro m the gates o f
Vienna. H a d they gain ed by it, a n d if so, what? T h e SDAP succeeded in mak
ing itself the sole spokesm an fo r the w orkers o f A ustria, able to fo rm u late
its p ro g ram s and to navigate the parliam entary w aters w ithout being seri
ously challenged by th e C om m un ist party (KPO), which rem ain ed a sect
th ro u g h o u t th e p e rio d .2 But the w ithering away o f the w orkers councils also
h a d its costs fo r the socialists. Until th e a d o p tio n o f th e constitution in 1920,
the councils served as a p ow erful re m in d e r to the C hristian Social a n d PanG erm an parties o f a revolution that th re a te n e d to c reate a social o rd e r
totally u n a ccep tab le to them . T h e SDAP h a d gained 43.4% o f the seats in
th e C on stitution al Assembly, c o m p a re d to 54.7% fo r the com b in ed o p p o
sition, yet re m a in e d th e d o m in a n t p a r tn e r in th e coalition fo rm e d with the
C hristian Socials. This short-lived advantage m ust be a ttrib u te d to the c o u n
cils dem o nstrative presen ce in Vienna.
N o d o u b t th e SDAP played this radical ca rd to its advantage in pushing
th ro u g h fu n d a m e n ta l social and econom ic legislation at the time. But
should it have p ressed fo r m o re d e m a n d e d stru c tu ra l refo rm s an d c o n
stitutional g u a ra n te e s th at would have served its long-range socialist goals
a n d put th e republic on a s o u n d e r fo u nd atio n? T h e re is n o easy answer. O n
th e whole, th e SDAP leadership was u n p re p a re d for the rapidly moving
events su rro u n d in g the collapse o f the old o r d e r a n d the party's em erging

182

Red Vienna

c entral role in establishing the republic. O n e m ust sympathize with their


inability to see all the advantages th e crisis m ight b rin g them ; they were not
above th e battle.
In my view th e socialist leaders missed two im p o rta n t possibilities d u rin g
tho se transitional m onths. First, th e nationalization o f som e prim ary indus
tries a n d banks a n d the legal im plantation o f the factory councils as agencies
o f c o d e te rm in a tio n so as to give the SDAP a strategic base in th e econom y
a fo rm o f industrial dem ocracy w ith ou t which th e re could be n o real change
in th e co n d itio n o f the w orking class. Second, curtailm en t o f the pow er o f
the C atholic ch u rch , going beyo n d G lockels reactivation o f th e law p ro h ib
iting religious practices in th e schools. A m uch clearer a n d m o re decisive
se p a ra tio n o f c h u rc h a n d state was necessary rem oving all religious influ
ence fro m the schools a n d p ro h ib itin g m em b ers o f the clergy fro m holding
public office, fo r instance in o r d e r to re d u c e th e ideological/psychological advantage o f th e C hristian Socials a n d th ereb y make them ju s t a political
adversary. T h e im p o rta n c e o f these steps was n o t easy to see, n o r would they
have b e e n easy to carry out. But they w ere necessary, even if accom plished
only in p a rt, b o th fo r th e socialists own cultural p ro g ra m a n d the survival
o f th e republic. As it tu r n e d out, quick a n d decisive action was essential; by
1920 th e fu tu re alignm ent o f political forces into u n e q u a l cam ps was
already d ete rm in e d .
But O tto B au er a n d the SDAP d ire c to ra te w ere n o t favored with o u r
pow ers o f hindsight. In the m idst o f th e struggles to establish th e republic,
they so u gh t a pa th f o r A ustrian socialism d ifferent from b o th G e rm a n social
d em ocratic refo rm ism a n d Bolshevism. Its m ain c o n to u rs w ere conceived
to be th e electoral c o n q u e st o f political p o w er a n d the creatio n o f a farrea c h in g cultural p ro g ra m tra n sfo rm in g th e working masses a n d p re p a rin g
th e m fo r the d em o cratic a tta in m e n t o f socialism. Such a class struggle o n
th e two fron ts o f politics a n d c u ltu re was p re d ic a te d o n the n e u tra l position
o f the rep u b lic a n state, with c onstitutional g u aran tees o f political pluralism
a n d d em ocratic p ro c e d u re s. B ut th e neu trality o f the state was illusory; in
reality th e disposition o f po w er within it, b e g inn ing with the b re a k u p o f the
coalition g o v ern m en t in 1920, already p itte d th e national g ov ern m en t c o n
tro lled by C hristian Socials a n d various allies against socialist-ruled Vienna.
B a u e rs optim istic assum p tio n th a t the SDAP w ould com e to p ow er at
th e polls was c o n tra d ic te d by m unicipal a n d especially national elections
fro m 1919 to 1930, in which th e socialists votes a n d m and ates increased
only slightly.3 T h e SD A Ps ability to a ttra c t voters outside its ranks ap pears
to have re a c h e d its limits betw een 1930 a n d 1932.4 In V ienna especially, it
seems th a t the SDAP h a d already a ttra c te d all possible su p p o rt fro m the
liberal m iddle class in th e Jew ish a n d Czech com m unities (which had n o real
alternatives) a n d fro m a small p r o p o rtio n o f th e lower m iddle class attracted
by r e n t c o n tro l a n d various m unicipal re fo rm m easures. T he SDA Ps fu r
th e r m ovem ent in the directio n o f a p e o p le s p a rty was inhibited by its
well-advertised p ro g ra m o f c u ltu re for the w orking class alone.
T h e socialists' a s p ira tio n

to p o w e r th ro u g h

t h e p o l l s w a s i l l u s o r y in

Conclusion
a n o th e r sense. W hat if th e magical 51% had actually been reached? W ould
the socialists th e n have b e e n able to use th e ir dem ocratically gained right to
nationalize th e m eans o f p ro d u c tio n , as the Linz P ro g ram o f 1926 p r o
claimed? Given the d e e p political a n d ideological divisions in Austria, such
a step w ould certainly have led to civil war, fo r w hat a m o u nts to a social rev
olu tio n c a n n o t be u n d e rta k e n with a slim p arliam entary majority, especially
w hen the d e fe a te d m inority is p r e p a re d to d e fe n d its contrary interests with
force. T h a t was th e c onclusion arrived at by L o n Blum, h ead o f the French
P o p lu la r F ro n t g o v e rn m e n t in 1936, when a general strike signaled populat
s u p p o rt fa r g re a te r th a n th e slim m ajority by which the Blum governm ent
a tta in e d pow er. C o n siderin g th e actual disposition o f political f o n t s and
interests in th e p op u la tio n , Blum co ncluded, the socialists could exercise
p ow er in alliance with o th e rs b u t could n o t c o n q u e r it, in the sense o f
tra n sfo rm in g capitalism into socialism. 5
T h e claims to tran sfo rm atio n al pow er o n th e basis o f a slim electoral
m ajority in a society divided in to two bitterly o p p o se d cam ps flirted with
civil war, which B a u e r insisted was to be avoided at virtually any cost. I lis
c o n c e p t o f th e balance o f class fo rces th e A ustrom arxist leitmotiv o f
the First R epublic was a theoretical device to keep the republic intact
while th e socialists so ug h t to increase th eir electo rate and p re p a re d the
w orkers culturally fo r th e ir fu tu re mission. But, as B a u e rs critics had
p o in te d o u t in 1924, o n e c o u ld hardly speak o f a balance o f class pow er
w hen the capitalist system a n d its social o r d e r r em ained in control, o r even
o f a long-range equilibrium , since th e conservative opposition had
r e g ro u p e d a fte r its b rie f disarray im m ediately a fte r the war.1 But n e ith e r
B a u e rs n o r th e p a rty s position was alte re d by these critiques. C onse
quently, the cu ltu ral p ro je c t rested o n the illusion that a supportive political
co n te x t w ould develop in ta n d e m with it. T h e police violence o n July 15,
1927, d u rin g th e w o rk e rs attack o n the Palace o f Ju stice, shook the confi
d e n c e o f m any socialists in the n eutrality o f the state. Karl R e n n e r suggested
that th e SDAP e n te r in to a coalition with th e C hristian Socials in o r d e r to
safeg uard the republic. It was rejected by B auer o u t o f h a n d as req u irin g
th e a b a n d o n m e n t o f the e n tire cultural effort in V ienna.7
A fte r 1927, as th e political fo rtu n e s o f the SDAP grew d im m er, the cul
tu ra l p ro ject, originally conceived as a m ajo r w eapon in th e arm o ry o f class
struggle, m o re a n d m o re becam e a sub stitu te fo r politics. T he cultural
e x p e rim e n t a n d V ienna becam e synonym ous, as the capital-enclave increas
ingly assum ed a defensive position in a hostile country. T ow ard the en d, the
socialists p ro je c te d relationship betw een politics and cultu re becam e
reversed. In ste a d o f providing a p ro te c te d en v iro n m en t for culture, politics
d e p e n d e d m o re a n d m o re o n cultural expression. T h e 100,000 workers,
re p re s e n tin g th e gam u t o f cu ltu ral organizations, p a ra d in g th ro u g h the
streets o f V ienna d u rin g the In tern atio n al W ork er O lympics in 1931, an d
th e m o re th a n 20 0 ,0 0 0 sp ectato rs at th e w orker festival in the new stadium
celebratin g the symbolic fall o f capitalism, w ere n e ith e r c u ltu re n o r politics,
but a m e ta p h o r for both. O p p o n e n ts o f the SDAP ( ( lluistian Socials, Pan-

184

Red Vienna

G erm ans, H eim w ehr, a n d Nazis) w ere im pervious to the SD A Ps symbols o f


stren g th a n d re jected its em blem s o f republicanism : dem ocracy an d n e u
trality o f th e state.8 They fo ug h t with raised visors in all arenas to liquidate
the socialist enemy.

Cultural L im its
T h e specific shortcom ings o f the socialists cultural p ro ject have b een th o r
oughly discussed in the body o f this work. T h e re are, however, a n u m b e r o f
questions raised by the ex p e rim e n t which deserve fu r th e r com m ent. W hat
is a socialist c u ltu re a n d who d eterm ines its content? W hat d an g ers are
in h e re n t in the discipline by which such a c ultural p ro g ra m is im plem ented
an d in the o rderliness tow ard which it strives? In w hat sense was th e A ustromarxist ex p e rim e n t b o th a m odel a n d a d e a d end?
L eaders o f the SDAP were vague a b o u t th e socialist c o n te n t o r quality
o f the varied facets o f th eir cultural p rog ram . T o be sure, th e w orkers were
to be e d u c a te d a n d th ereb y b ro u g h t to a hig h er level o f consciousness and
provided with the facilities a n d necessities o f a m o re dignified life. It
rem ain ed u n c le a r how such an individual a n d collective im provem ent was
different from old-fashioned liberal ideals which h a d b ecom e platitudinous.
Similarly, m o re a n d b e tte r housing, kindergartens, a n d libraries were c e r
tainly desirable, b u t did these im provem ents differ from th e goals o f the
reform ist socialism th e A ustrom arxists w ere com m itted to surpassing? T he
socialists essence so ug h t a fte r by the SDAP becom es m ost illusive in the
arts.9 Did a sym phony by B eethoven becom e socialist if it was played by the
W o rk e rs S ym phony O rc h e stra fo r an audience o f w orkers, as was suggested
at the time? W hat m ade Jack L o n d o n an acceptable a u th o r a n d Karl May a
pu rvey o r o f kitsch in the eyes o f socialist c u ltu re experts? Why were Kthe
Kollwitzs paintings o f lower-class misery p re fe rre d to a m a d o n n a by R aph
ael? W hat w ere the c riteria used to d ete rm in e a p p ro p ria te n e ss o r desirabil
ity from a socialist perspective o f ho m e furnishings, decorations, books,
dress, radio pro gram s, a n d so on?
I am n o t d efe n d in g th e im poverished taste prevalent in w orker subcul
tures. T he knickknacks, antim acassars, fra m e d proverbs, a n d o th e r items
which a d o rn e d w o rkers ho m es speak fo r a w idespread deprivation o f taste,
lack o f o p p o rtu n ity to com e in contact with the w ider world, and c o n
strain ed h o u se h o ld budgets. But, how ever p o o r an d deficient the w orkers
taste was, it could n o t simply be co m m a n d e d away by p eop le outside the
su b cultures a n d rep laced by items alien to them . T he edu cation o f taste has
b e e n fo u n d to be a slow a n d long-term process.
All questions a b o u t th e socialist c o n te n t o r essence o f c u ltu re lead us
back to the valuers who d e te rm in e d what should be included and excluded
in th e m en u o f c u ltu re set b e fo re the workers. It was a small elite o f party
leaders a n d d ire c to rs o f cultural p rog ram s who m ade such decisions. T h eir
values a n d tastes reflet ted th eir own generally middle-class a n d G erm an-/#/-

Conclusion
rfMng'-oriented socialization, o r an a d ap tatio n to the values em anating from
it, r a th e r th a n th e vague ideal o f a socialist culture. O n e o f the most im p or
ta n t d e m o n stra tio n s o f the Viennese ex p e rim e n t is that a cultural p rogram
p ro je c te d from above o n to a p o p ulatio n below is destined to rem ain the
expression o f an elite. T he go o d in tentions o f leaders are not sulli< ient t<>
make a cu ltu ral p ro g ra m truly p o p u la r a n d acceptable. It would seem lhal
only by a grad ual process o f negotiation betw een cultural innovators 01
re fo rm e rs a n d th e existing su bcu ltu res they h o p e to elevate, could tliei < l><a move tow ard the kind o f tra n sfo rm a tio n th e A ustrom arxists envisaged.
N ot only was th e c o n te n t o f the socialists project problem atic; the
m eans by which it was carried ou t, a n d th e d em an d s it made on those foi
w hom it was in te n d e d , also help to explain its limited success at the time and
are revealing a b o u t cu ltu ral ex perim ents in general. T h e socialist leaders
a p p e a re d as auth ority figures in the w o rk ers world in two related guises: as
city fathers a n d as oligarchs o f the SDAP. F u rth e rm o re , their c ultural pro
g ram was paternalistic, especially in its d e m a n d fo r discipline both in the
organizations themselves a n d on the p a rt o f the w orkers u n d e rg o in g c ivi
lization. This m e th o d o f c o n tro l clearly co n tra d ic te d the A ustrom arxists'
long-range goal o f creatin g self-confident a n d assertive workers. T he call foi
an o rderly a n d respectable w orker family (aside fro m echoing what middleclass critics h a d d e m a n d e d fo r som e time) was ultimately aim ed at the diver
sity o f life-styles in working-class com m unities. I have no intention ol
rom anticizing w o rk er su bcu ltu res by overlooking th e form s o f dissonance
to be fo u n d there. But these w ere far outw eighed by codes o f coping with
th e hardships o f life in a respectable m ann er. N o m a tte r how well m eant,
th e socialists co n sta n t reiteratio n o f the ne e d fo r b e tte rm e n t not only
d e m e a n e d th e w orkers fo r w hat they were, b u t also, indirectly, suggested
c o nfo rm ism o f a new kind. In the socialists struggle to save the workers
fro m the effects o f com m ercial a n d mass cu ltu re, they seem not to have real
ized th at they w ere equally guilty o f tu rn in g the w orkers into passive c o n
sum ers, albeit o f th eir own b ra n d o f cultural products.
T h e Viennese cultural ex p erim en t rem ains the clearest exam ple ol the
possibilities and limits o f providing a fo retaste o f the socialist utopia in the'
p re se n t, o f devising a n d im planting a u n iq u e p ro letarian c u ltu re in a society
that has n o t e x p e rie n c e d a fun d am en tal re v o lu tio n .10 As a m odel it reveals
the fragility o f such an en terp rise, because o f its clear d e p e n d e n c e on polit
ical pow er. It also d em o n strates that c u ltu re p e r se c a n n o t com p en sate lot
the econom ic deprivations a n d general hard ship s o f life. T he lofty goal ol
e d ucatio n fo r know ledge was circum scribed by the m eans o f its im plem en
tation, in th e relationship betw een subject an d object, leaders and masses.
P erhap s the m ost significant legacy o f the V ienna ex p erien ce is the concrete
challenge it p resents to the once fashionable in te rp re ta tio n o f (Iramsc i's
hegem ony theory, which suggests that the w orkers could create a c o un terhegem onic c u ltu re b e fo re they succeeded in c a p tu rin g state p o w er."
In interw ar E u ro p e red V iennas experim ent to c reate a working-c lass
c u ltu re without revolution re p re se n te d a c o u n te rm o d e l to Stalinist totali

Red Vienna

186

tarian c u ltu re .12 T oday b o th exam ples, c u ltu re w ithout p o w er an d pow er


w ithout c ulture, have a p p aren tly reach ed a de a d end. T h e A ustrian e x p e r
im ent was n o t to be replicated, n o t even in A ustria a fte r W orld W ar II and
the a tta in m e n t o f state in d e p e n d e n c e in 1955. A new social p a rtn e rs h ip
(between th e tra d e unions, ow n ers associations, a n d political parties) has
largely depoliticized national life. In th e em erg in g welfare state th e re seems
to be little n e e d o r desire fo r a c o m p ensato ry culture. T h e c u rre n t flight into
private life a n d private c u ltu re raises a cardinal question: Is th e re no half
way ho u se b etw een a party c u ltu re totally initiated a n d co n tro lled from
above (of which the Russian a n d East E u ro p e a n exam ples cu rrently u n ra v
eling are th e models), a n d the totally privatized individual hedonism m an ip
u la te d by th e m arket, which creates desires a n d d em and s in o r d e r to satisfy
th em at a price a n d gives satisfactions th a t are as b rie f as this seasons styles
a n d fads?
D espite all shortcom ings, the b rie f V ienna ex p erim en t has left a lasting
afterglow o f nostalgia fo r its prom ise, which could n o t be fulfilled.1* T he
desire to c re a te a revolution in th e soul o f m a n re a c h e d fa r beyo n d tra
ditional socialist aspirations into th e realm o f h u m a n yearning fo r a fu tu re
in which individual dev elo pm ent a n d th e com m unity b ecom e a h a rm o n io u s
whole. As th e V iennese w ork er song p u t it so well:
Wir
Wir
Wir
Wir

sind
sind
sind
sind

We
We
We
We

are
are
are
are

das Bauvolk d e r komm enden Welt,


d er Samann, die Saat und das Feld.
die Schnitter der kommenden Mahd.
die Zukunft, und wir sind die Tat.

the
the
the
the

builders o f the future world:


field, the sower and seed,
reapers o f harvests to come,
future and the deed.

Notes

Chapter 1
1. By the early 1930s the Heimwehr was a formidable paramilitary organization
with a small delegation in parliament (Heimatblock) on which Chancellor Engelbert
Dollfuss depended in dismantling the republican structure. Its politics was a mixture
o f nostalgic monarchism, pan-Germanism, and fascism given coherence by a violent
antisocialism. U nder the leadership o f Prince Ernst Rudiger von Starhemberg, it
p ursued a putschist policy and played a vital role in the February events. See C. Earl
Edmondson, The Heimwehr and February 1934: Reflections and Questions, in
Anson Rabinbach, ed., The Austrian Socialist Experiment: Social Democracy and Austromarxism, 1 9 1 8 -1 9 3 4 (Boulder, Colo., 1985); idem, The Heimwehr and Austrian Pol
itics, 1 9 1 8 -1 9 3 6 (Athens, Ga., 1978); F. L. Carsten, Fascist Movements in Austria
(London, 1977); and Ludwig Jedlicka, The Austrian Heimwehr, in Walter
L aqueur and George L. Mosse, eds., International Fascism, 1 9 2 0 -1 9 4 5 (New York,
1966).
2. Le Populaire, Feb. 14 and 15, 1934. In the latter issue the Trade Union Inter
national (IFTU), meeting in Paris, issued a statement o f solidarity with the Austrian
workers.
3. Daily Herald, Feb. 14, 1934. In the same issue the TUC announced the crea
tion o f a Fund to Aid Austrian Workers and on the following day rep orted that sub
stantial monies already had been pledged.
4. Le Populaire, Feb. 16, 1934. All translations are my own unless otherwise
noted.
5. Daily Herald, Feb. 17, 1934.
6. See Marcel Cachin on Feb. 16 and 19, 1934. His claim that the policy o f
accommodation had led both the German and Austrian Socialist parties to defeat
had a certain credibility. H e o f course failed to mention the considerable responsi
bility o f the German Communist party for the collapse o f the German left.
7. See Rundschau liber Politik, Wirtschaft und Arheiterbewegung, March 1, 1934,
663.
8. See James Donnadieu, Le Temps, Feb. 14, 1934. He also blamed the Heim
wehr, but considered the socialists more responsible for the crisis.
9. S e e W l a d i m i r D O r m e s s o n , Le Figaro, F e b . I 7, 1934. A u s t r i a n so cialism in its
V i e n n e s e en c la v e , lie c la i m e d , s u l f e r e d f r o m e x h a u s t i o n : a n inability t o f u r l h e r a n i
m a t e t h e m asses save f o r " d a n g e r o u s inc ite m e n t to class w a r f a r e , "

188

Notes to Pages 4 -7

10. Feb. 13-17, 1934.


11. See Feb. 13-16, 1934, and especially Feb. 15 and 12.
12. Most im portant in the large literature on the February risings are Erith
Frschl and Helge Zoitl, eds., Februar 1934: Ursachen, Fakten, Folgen (Vienna, 1985);
Joseph Weidenholzer, Bedeutung und H intergrund des 12. F ebruar 1934, in "Es
wird nicht mehr Verhandelt: Der 12. Februar 1934 in Obersterreich (Linz, 1984); Ger
h ard Botz, Strategies o f Political Violence: Chance Events and Structural Eff ects as
Casual Factors in the February Rising o f the Austrian Social Democrats, in Rabinbach, Austrian Socialist Experiment; Ludwigjedlicka and Rudolf Neck, eds., Das Jahr
1934: 12. Februar (Vienna, 1975); Kurt Peball, Die Kmpfe in Wien im Februar 1934
(Vienna, 1974); and N o rbert Leser, 12 Thesen zum 12. F ebruar 1934, in In ter
nationale Tagung der Historiker d e r Arbeiterbewegung, ITH-Tagungsbericht
(Vienna, 1976), IX.
13. For the disorientation o f leaderless workers at the district level, see Hans Safrian, Mobilisierte Basis ohne Waffen: Militanz und Resignation im F ebruar 1934
am Beispiel d er oberen und U nteren Leopoldstadt, in Helmut Konrad and Wolf
gang M aderthaner, eds., Neuere Studien zur Arbeitergeschichte (Vienna, 1984), II.
14. H arold Laski called Vienna the best governed city in the world. Daily Her
ald, F'eb. 17,1934, 10. The New York Times lauded Vienna u n der progressive social
ist rule for its public housing and social services. Feb. 13, 1934, 2.
15. See Abbot Gleason, Peter Kenez, and Richard Stites, eds., Bolshevik Culture:
Experiment and Order in the Russian Revolution (Bloomington, Ind., 1985).
16. See O tto Bauer, Gleichgewicht d er Klassenkrfte, Der Kam pf 17:2 (Feb.
1924), 5 6 -6 7 ; idem, Die sterreichische Revolution (Vienna, 1923).
17. See Giacomo Marramao, Zum Problem d er Demokratie in der politischen
Theorie O tto Bauers, in D. A lberset al., eds., Otto Bauer und der dritte Weg (Frank
furt, 1979).
18. T here has been an unfo rtu nate tendency among some younger Austrian his
torians to romanticize the SDAP and its cultural efforts. In part this was an overraction to the virtual silence about working-class history in the two decades following
World War I I . l t also served to provide Bruno Kreiskys socialist government with a
usable and heroic past. See Helmut Konrad, Geschichte d er Arbeiterbewegung in
Lehre u n d Forschung, in Karl R. Stadler, ed., Rckblick und Ausschau: 10Jahre Lud
w ig Boltzmann Institut fiir ( beschichte der Arbeiterbewegung (Vienna, 1978), and Helmut
G ruber, History o f the Austrian Working Class: Unity o f Scholarship and Practice,
International Labor and Working-Class History 24 (Fall 1983), especially 61.
19. Marie Jahoda, Paul F. Lazersfeld, and Hans Zeisl, Die Arbeitslosen von Marienthal: Ein soziologischer Versuch ber die Wirkung langdauernder Arbeitslosigkeit (Leip
zig, 1933).
20. See Franz Kreuzer (in conversation with Marie Jahoda), Des Menschen hohe
Braut: Arbeit, Freizeit, Arbeitslosigkeit (Vienna, 1983), 7-8.
21. No do ub t this view will be disputed in Vienna even today, and the citys lead
ing role in the interwar years defended by citing the presence o f various great per
sons (Ludwig Wittgenstein, Richard Strauss, Robert Musil, Sigmund Freud, etc.). It
is fruitless to argue on the terrain o f great personalities (one can surely find a sur
prisingly large n um ber in Budapest as well at the time). The cultural dem otion o f
Vienna went hand in hand with its dem otion from capital o f an empire to that o f a
small, impoverished republic.
22. See O tto Bauer, Bolschewismus oiler Sozialdemokratie (Vienna, 1920); Max
Adler, Politische oder soziale Demokratie (Berlin, 1926); and Karl Renner, Demokra-

Notes to Pages 7-10

189

tie u n d Rtesystem, Der Kam pf 14 (1921). See also the analysis in Raimond Lw,
Otto Hauer und die russische Revolution (Vienna, 1980), 4 2 -5 5 , and Marramao, Zum
Problem d er Demokratie.
23. See Helmut G ruber, Lon Blum, French Socialism, and the Popular Front: A Case
of Internal Contradictions (Ithaca, N.Y., 1986); idem, The German Socialist Execu
tive in Exile, 1933-1939: Democracy as Internal Contradiction, in Wolfgang Maderth an er and H elm ut G ruber eds., Chance und Illusion Labor in Retreat (Vienna,
1988).
24. See the brilliant exposition o f this dilemma by George Orwell in The Road to
Wigan Pier (New York, 1958), 135-36, 16069.
25. This tendency o f organic leaders to abandon their milieu for the values of the
dom inant culture prevailed in o ther interwar socialist parties. Fredrich Ebert and
O tto Weis, successive heads of the German SPD, are clear examples.
26. See Quintin H oare and Geoffrey N. Smith, eds., Selections from the Prison
Notebooks o f Antonio Gramsci (New York, 1971), and the perceptive analysis in Jerom e
Karabel, Revolutionary Contradictions: Antonio Gramsci and the Problem o f Intel
lectuals, Politics & Society 6:2 (1976). Ultimately, Gramsci questioned whether the
proletariat could creat its own stratum o f intellectuals before the conquest of state
power. See Antonio Gramsci, The Modern Prince and Other Writings (London, 1957),
49 -5 0.
27. See J. Robert Wegs, Working-Class Respectability: The Viennese Experi
ence, "Journal o f Social History 15:4 (Summer 1982).
28. The controversy about mass culture continues to rage today. For an inter
esting exposition, see the position paper by Michael Denning entitled The End of
Mass C ulture and the critical commentaries by Janice Radway, Luisa Passerini, Wil
liam Taylor, and Adelheid von Saldern in International Labor and Working-Class His
tory 37 (Spring 1990). See also D ennings response in the same journal, The Ends
o f Ending Mass C ulture, ibid., 38 (Fall 1990).
29. Unfortunately a history o f the Catholic church during the First Republic has
not yet been written. Considering the continued prominence o f the church in public
life, (Sunday Mass on the national radio station, for instance), there is little likelihood
that someone will dare to puncture the gentle self-criticism the church has used to
cover its true past.
30. William J. McGrath calls this substitution of culture for politics, whose roots
lay in prewar Austria, the politics o f m etap h or o r politics o f illusion. See his
Dionysian Art and Populist Politics in Austria (New Haven, Conn., 1974). The concept
originated with Carl E. Schorske in Politics in a New Key: An Austrian Triptych,
The Journal of Modern Histoiy 39 (1967).
31. For an excellent summary of economic conditions, see Hans K ernbauer and
Fritz Weber, Von der Inflation zur Depression: sterreichs Wirtschaft, 19181934, in E. Talos and W. N eugebauer, eds., Austrofaschismus: Beitrge ber Politik,
konomie und Kultur, 1 9 3 4 -1 9 3 8 (V ienna, 1984).
32. Most authorities list 557,000 unemployed, o r 26 percent o f the potential
labor force, for 1933. See for instance Dieter Stiefel, Arbeitslosigkeit: Soziale, poli
tische und wirtschaftliche Auswirkungen am Beispiel sterreichs, 1 9 1 8 -1 9 3 8 (Berlin,
1979), 2 8 -2 9 . But official statistics left out large groups such as the long-term unem
ployed and the young, who had been prevented f rom entering the labor market. An
upward revision might increase the n um ber o f unemployed by 200,000, bringing the
total to 38 percent. See Ernst Bruckmller, Sozialgeschichte sterreichs (Vienna,
19 8 5 ), 5 0 0 .

Notes to Pages 10-15


33.
The decline was from 896,763 in 1923 to 520,162 in 1932. See Fritz Klenner, Die sterreichischen Gewerkschaften (Vienna, 1953), I: 657; II: 960.

C h a p te r 2
1. Carl E. Schorske, Fin-de-siecle Vienna: Politics and Culture (New York, 1980).
Four o f Schorskes seven chapters were published in essay form between 1961 and
1973 and exerted considerable influence on two works published before Schorskes
magnum opus. See Allan Janik and Stephen Toulmin, Wittgensteins Vienna (New
York, 1973), and William McGrath, Dionysian Art and Populist Politics in Austria (New
Haven, Conn., 1974). In all three works the tendency is very strong to project elite
culture as all culture and to offer the form er as an emblem for society as a whole.
For a critique of this tendency, see Dieter Schrge, Klimt Ikone und Waschbot
tich: Zum Traum und Wirklichkeit um 1900, in H ubert Ehalt, et ai., Glcklich ist,
wer v e r g i s s t D a s andere Wien um 1 9 0 0 (Vienna, 1986).
2. The others were London, Paris, and Berlin.
3. The film (with the English subtitle The Joyless Street) was based on a novel by
the Austrian sexual reform er H ugo Bettauer, published in 1923 and serialized in
Neue Freie Presse. Before public screening the film underw ent considerable cutting
to reduce the unrelenting realism. Even so, in England public showings were p ro
hibited. See Siegfried Kracauer, From Caligari to Hitler: A Psychological Study of the
German Film (New York, 1959), 167-70.
4. Walter R uttm anns film Berlin, die Symphonie einer Grossstadt (1927) attem pted
to present the farrago o f everyday life in the metropolis by using the technique of
montage. Ibid., 182-88.
5. The best source for the birth pains o f the new republic is still Charles A. Gulick,
Austria from Hahsburg to Hitler (Berkeley, Calif., 1948), I: 43-65.
6. See Klemens von Klemperer, The H absburg Heritage: Some Pointers for a
Study of the First Austrian Republic, in Anson Rabinbach, ed., The Austrian Social
ist Experiment: Social Democracy and Austromarxism, 1 9 1 8 -1 9 3 4 (Boulder, Colo.,
1985), 13.
7. Karls statement had been written by Ignaz Seipel, minister o f social welfare
in the last monarchical government, in such an ambiguous way as to leave open the
possibility o f a H absburg restoration. The word abdicate was never used. See Rob
ert Stger, Der christliche F h rer und die wahre Demokratie: Zu den Demokra
tiekonzeptionen von Ignaz Seipel, in Archiv: Jahrbuch des Vereins fr Geschichte der
Arbeiterbewegung 2 (1986): 5 4 -6 7 , especially 55. Stger places this and other
instances within the context o f Seipels passionate authoritarianism.
8. See Hans H autm ann, Die verlorene Rterepublik: Am Beispiel der Kommunis
tischen Partei Deutschsterreichs, 2nd enlarged ed. (Vienna, 1971), 71-80.
9. Jo h n Bunzel, Arbeiterbewegung, Judenfrage und Antisemitismus am Beis
piel des Weiner Bezirks Leopoldstadt, in G erhard Botz et al., Bewegung und Klasse:
Studien zur sterreichischen Arbeitergeschichte (Vienna, 1978), 744; and Karl M. Brousek, Wien und seine Tschechen: Integration und Assimilation einer Minderheit im 20. Jahr
hundert (Vienna, 1980), 31-35.
10. Felix Czeike, Geschichte der Stadt Wien (Vienna, 1981), ch. 8.
11. Renate Benik-Schweitzer and G erhard Meissl, Industriestadt Wien: Die Durch
setzung der industriellen Marktproduktion in der Habsburgerresidenz (Vienna, 1983), 35,
38, 4 6 -4 7 , 135, 111.
12. A m o n g lliose w hic h r e m a i n e d w e r e T a h a k r e g i e ( ) t t a k r i n g K.- F a v o r i te n will)
1,000 w o r k e r s ; L. R s c h e r He Co. ( D u n l o p ) with 1,800 w o r k e r s a n d e m p lo y e e s ;

Notes to Pages 16-19

191

A nkerbrotfabrik with 2,000 workers and employees; Weineberger Ziegelfabrik-und


Baugesellschaft with 2,500 workers; Hofherr-Schrantz-Clayton-Shuttelworth (agri
cultural machinery) with 2,500 workers; and Wiener Lokomotifabrik with 2,000
workers. Some o f these, such as Ankerbrot, used the latest technology and means of
production. See Das Neue Wein, II (Vienna, 1928).
13. During the war, women made up 50% o f the labor force in the metals indus
try. Their expulsion from production in 1918-19 led to a huge increase in the num
ber o f unemployed (130,000) requiring some kind o f relief. By 1920 and for the
following years the num ber o f unemployed decreased by two-thirds. See Berthold
Unfried, Arbeiterschaft und Arbeiterbewegung, 19 1 7 -1 91 8 , Sozialdemokratie und
Habsburgerstaat, 1 8 6 7 -1 9 1 8 (Vienna, 1987), 334.
14. See Bunzel, Arbeiterbewegung, Ju d enfrage, 745-46; Anton Staudinger,
Christlichsoziale Judenpolitik in der Grdungsphase der sterreichischen Repub
lik, "Jahrbuch fr Zeitgeschichte 1978 (Vienna, 1979), 28.
15. For the food deprivation of the Viennese working population during the war,
see Hans H autm ann, H u ng er ist ein schlechter Koch: Die Ernhrungslage der
sterreichischen A rbeiter im Ersten Weltkrieg, in Botz, Bewegung und Klasse.
16. See Ja n Tabor, An dieser Blume gehst du zugrunde: Bleich, purpu rro t,
weiss Krankheit als Inspiration, Ehalt, Glcklich ist.
1
7. See for instance O tto Bauer, Die sterreichische Revolution (Vienna, 1923), and
Julius Deutsch, Aus sterreichs Revolution (Vienna, 1920). The assumption in those
works and cu rren t to the present is that the establishment o f ihe republic was itself
revolutionary. Virtually all of O tto Bauers writings referred to here and elsewhere
are quite easily accessible in a reprint edition: Arbeitsgemeinschaft fr die Ge
schichte der sterreichischen Arbeiterbewegung, Otto Bauer: Werkausgabe (Vienna,
1975-80), 9 vols.
18. See Helmut G ruber, International Communism in the Era of Lenin (New York,
1967), 191-96; H autm ann, Verlorene Rterepublik, 214-18; and Ernst Bruckmller,
Sozialgeschichte sterreichs (Vienna, 1985), 456-67.
19. See Joseph Ehmer, Wiener Arbeitswelten um 1900, in Ehalt, Glcklich ist,
196-97. I have extrapolated the figures for 1919 from Ehm ers data.
20. Joseph Ehmer and Heinz Fassmann, Zur Sozialstruktur von Zuwanderern
im 19. Ja h rh u n d e rt, in Immigration et socete urbaine en Europe occidentale, XVI'-XX'
siecle (Paris, 1985), 4 2 -4 4 ; Michael John, Wohnverhltnisse sozialer Unterschichten im
Wien Kaiser Franz Josephs (Vienna, 1984), 197-209.
21. See Michael Jo h n, Hausherrenmacht und Mietereland: Wohnverhltnisse und
Wohnerfahrung der Unterschichten in Wien, 1 8 9 0 -1 9 2 3 (Vienna, 1982), 108-30;
Michael John, Wohnverhltnisse, 95-121.
22. O n spontaneous versus instigated street violence, see G erhard Botz, Gewalt
in der Politik: Attentate, Zusammenstsse, Putschversuche, Unruhen in sterreich 1918 bis
1938 (Munich, 1983), 22 -7 2 .

23. For the stress o f postwar life on working-class children and youth, see Hans
Safrian and Reinhard Sieder, Gassenkinder, Strassenkmpfer: Zur politischen
Sozialisation einer A rbeitergeneration in Wien 1900 bis 1938, in Lutz Niethammer
and Alexander von Plato, eds., Wir kriegen jetzt andere Zeiten (Berlin, 1985), 120-25;
and Reinhard Sieder, "Behind the Lines: Working-Class Families in Wartime
Vienna, in Richard Wall and Jay Winter, eds., The Upheaval of War: Family, Work
and Welfare in Europe, 1 9 I I 1918 (Cambridge, 1988).
24. See H a n s l l a u i m a n n a n d R u d o l f K r o p f , Die sterreichische Arbeiterbewegung
r oin Vormrz bis 1 9 1 1 , 3 r d rcv. e d . (V ie n n a, 1974), 122 23.
25. O l l o B auet m a d e il q u i t e < Icai lh al Ih e SDAP le a r e tl w o i k e i spoiii.inie ly a n d

192

Notes to Pages 19-21

sought to control and contain the mass movement. See sterreichische Revolution,
84ff. O n the danger to democracy posed by soviet-styled experiments, see O tto
Bauer, Rtediktatur oder Demokratie?, Die Arbeiter-Zeitung, March 28, 1919. For
the reaction o f the Austrian workers councils to the Hungarian Soviet Republic, see
Julius Braunthal, Die Arbeiterrte in Deutschsterreich (Vienna, 1919).
26. See Rolf Reventlow, Zwischen Alliierten und Bolschewiken: Arbeiterrte in ster
reich, 1 9 1 8 -1 9 2 3 (Vienna, 1969), 69ff, 124; Botz, Gewalt Politik, 72-80.
27. For attitudes toward proletarian dictatorship in the SDAP see Raimond Low,
Otto Bauer und die russische Revolution (Vienna, 1980), 42 -5 5.
28. See Gruber, International Communism Lenin, 177-78.
29. An example o f the rationalizing role o f theory is Bauers explanation o f the
elections to the Constituent Assembly in 1919. The socialists had received 40.76%
o f the vote and had the largest num ber o f seats, but could not govern alone and had
to share power with their sworn opponents, who shattered the coalition one year
later. Characterizing the election results several years later, Bauer said that the
socialists had captured predom inant power in the Republic. See Anson Rabinbach, The Crisis of Austrian Socialism: From Red Vienna to C ivil War, 1 9 2 7 -1 9 3 4 (Chi
cago, 1983), 22.
30. Virtually every socialist party in the interwar years was in the hands o f an oli
garchical leadership which spoke in the name o f the party but had little use for inter
nal democracy, alternate views, factions, o r grass-roots initiatives. See Helmut
G ruber, Lon Blum, French Socialism, and the Popular Front: A Case of Internal Contra
dictions (Ithaca, N.Y., 1986), 1-3 and idem., The German Socialist Executive in
Exile, 1933-1939: Democracy as Internal. Contradiction, in Wolfgang Maderthan er and Helmut G ruber, eds., Chance und Illusion: Labor in Retreat (Vienna, 1988),
185-89 and preface.
31. See Fritz Klenner, Die sterreichischen Gewerkschaften (Vienna, 1953), I: 520;
Gulick, Austria, I: xi, 258-59. Membership by Viennese workers in the Catholic
W orkers Association am ounted to only 7% o f the total socialist union membership.
Ibid., 2 7 -2 8 , 266-67.
32. See Alfred G. Frei, Rotes Wien: Austromarxismus und Arbeiterkultur (Berlin,
1984), 5 8 -5 9 ; Hans H autm ann and Rudolf Hautm ann, Die Wohnbautender Gemeinde
Wien (Vienna, 1980), 31-32.
33. See P eter Kulemann, Am Beispiel Austromarxismus: Sozialdemokratische Arbei
terbewegung in sterreich von Hainfeld bis zur Dollfuss-Diktatur (Hamburg, 1979),
304-7.
34. By 1927 the socialist vote in Vienna reached 60.3%. In the same year 55.5%
o f the votes cast for the SDAP came from party members, as com pared to 21.5% in
1919. See Frei, Rotes Wien, 60.
35. Gulick, Austria, I: 690.
36. A second coalition government was formed in O ctober 1919. But conserva
tive resistance to the socialists reform demands led to the breakup o f the coalition
in Ju n e 1920. From then on the SDAP behaved very much like a social democratic
oppositon in refusing to consider participation in coalition governments.
37. For the reform legislation, see Gulick, Austria, I: 175ff; Julius Braunthal, Die
Sozialpolitik der Republik (Vienna, 1919); and O tto Bauer, Der Weg zum Sozialismus
(Vienna, 1919).
38. It was actually a euphemism for the forty-eight-hour week usually involving
live full days and a Saturday o f half-day work. W om ens weekly hours un d er the law
were reduced to forty-four.

Notes to Pages 21-23


39. See G erhard Meissl, Minutenpolitik: Die Anfnge d er Wissenschaftlie hen
Betriebsfhrung am Beispiel d er Wiener Elektroindustrie vor dem Ersten Well
krieg, in Helmut Konrad and Wolfgang M aderthaner, eds., Neuere Studien zui
Arbeitergeschichte (Vienna, 1984), 1: 41-100.
40. From the beginning, the socialist trade unions won more than 80% ol ili<
seats on the Chambers o f Workers and Employees.
41. O n socialization and factory councils, see H autm ann and Kropf, Osterrei
chische Arbeiterbewegung, 13031, 13637; Erwin Weissei, Die Ohnmacht des Sieges:
Arbeiterschaft and Sozialisierung nach dem Ersten Weltkrieg in sterreich (Vienna, I 976),
144-49, 2 5 2 -9 9 ; Klaus Klenner, Die Ursachen des Versagens der gemeinwirl
schaftlichen Anstalten in der Ersten Republik (Ph.D diss., University o f Vienna,
1959); O tto Bauer, Die Sozialisierungsaktion im ersten Jahre der Republic (Vienna,
1919); Edward Mrz and Fritz Weber, O tto Bauer und die Sozialisierung, in I)
Albers et al., Otto Bauer und der dritte Weg (Frankfurt/M ain, 1978), 71-82; and
Robert Stger, Sozialisierrungs- und Verstaatlichungsdiskussion in der slei rei< li
ischen Sozialdemokratie in d er Ersten und Zweiten Republik: Ein Vergleic h,"
Archiv: Jahrbuch des Vereins fr Geschichte der Arbeiterbewegung, III (1987): (><> -71.
42. The head o f the Catholic trade unions, Leopold Kunschak, and Christian
Social leader Ignaz Seipel, were also members and did their best to keep (he ( loinmission on the plane o f discussion.
43. H ere, as in o th e r domains, the socialists explained their failure to accomplish
their program as the result o f pressures or anticipated actions by the Allied powers.
In the case o f socialization, it was suggested that foreign credit would be cut oil in
the event o f expropriations.
44. See Maren Seliger, Sozialdemokratie und Kommunalpolitik in Wien (Vienna,
1980), 24. In the prewar period the restricted suffrage disenfranchised large seg
ments o f the working class and made Vienna a Christian Social stronghold.
45. Ibid, 6 5 -8 2 . This effective dual status became formally constitutional only in
January 1922. In the Viennese provincial election of 1923 the SDAP attained 65%
o f the mandate. See Robert Danneberg, Die sozialdemokratische Gemeindeverwaltung
in Wien (Vienna, 1928), 10. For the political struggle over the Vienna problem and
the distinction between Vienna as capital as opposed to greater Vienna, see Wil
fried Posch, Lebensraum Wien: Problem der R aum ordnung und des Wohnungs
wesens, 1 9 1 8 -19 7 8, Austriaca: Cahiers universitaires d infonnation s u r / Antriebe 12
(May 1981): 139-45.
46. But a substantial part o f the provincial/municipal budget was derived f rom
a federal apportionm ent o f national taxes. The latter was in the bands o f the gov
ernm ent coalition o f Christian Socials and Pan-Germans and other conservative par
ties after 1920. It placed a powerful weapon in the hands o f the socialists opponents,
who at first threatened to and after 1929 did make use o f it.
47. For the forms and means o f taxation, see Rainer Baubck, Wohnungspolitik
im sozialdemokratischen Wien, 1 9 1 9 -1 9 3 4 (Salzburg, 1979), 128-39; Frei, Rotes Wien,
84; and for the most detailed presentation, Gulick, Austria; 1: 354-407.
48. For the following, see John, Hausherrenmacht, 326; Helmut Weihsmann, Das
Rote Wien: Sozialdemokratische Architektur und Kommunalpolitik, 1 9 1 9 -1 9 3 4 (Vienna,
1985), 3538; Seliger, Sozialdemokratie, 91 -1 0 5; Baubck, Wohnungspolitik, 26 38;
and Gulick, Austria. I: 421-3 2.
40.
Although these figures suggest a substantial increase in the real wages ol
workers in postwar Vienna, lowered rents only made a marginal difference. Real
wages had risen substantially lr the generation before llie war, but the economic

194

Notes to Pages 23-25

dislocations after 1918 erased most o f these gains. Thus the drastic rent reductions
in the worker budget mainly com pensated for other losses. See Michael John,
Wohnpolitische A useinandersetzungen in d e r Ersten Republik insbesondere aus
serhalb des Parlam ents, in Konrad and M aderthaner, eds., Neuere Studien, I: 2 4 7 54.
50. See sterreichische Revolution, introduction.
51. My list o f titles in use during the First Republic is by no means complete (or
even perfectly accurate), being derived from the memory o f elderly Viennese
acquaintances. Title mania is even m ore p ronounced in the Second Republic, espe
cially am ong socialists. O ne well-known form er director of a principal Viennese
archive had seven titles before his name, all o f which had to be included in any cor
respondence with him if one expected a favorable response.
52. With one exception, Austrian socialist rituals and their relation to older cul
tural forms have not been studied. See the excellent Ph.D dissertation by Bla Rasky,
Arbeiterfesttage: Die Fest- und Feierkultur d er sozialdemokratischen Bewegung in
d er Ersten Republik sterreich, 1 9 1 8 -1 9 3 4 , (University o f Vienna, 1985), espe
cially 3 8 6 -9 5 . For an interesting introduction to the symbolism o f German worker
rituals, see G ottfried Korff, Rofe Fahnen und geballte Faust: Zur Symbolik der
A rbeiterbewegung in d e r W eimarer Republic, in Dietman Petina, Fahnen, Fuste,
Krper: Symbolic und K ultur der Arbeiterbewegung (Essen, 1986).
53. See Reinhard Sieder, Gassenkinder, Aufrisse: Zeitschrift f r politische B il
dung 5:4 (1984): 8-11 .
54. See Bruckmller, Sozialgeschichte, 504 -5 .
55. O n the question o f viability and Anschluss, see the excellent succinct article
by Bruce F. Pauley, The Social and Economic Background o f Austrias Lebensun
fhigkeit, in Rabinback, ed., Austrian Socialist Experiment, 21 -3 7 . See also O tto
Bauer, Acht Monate Auswrtige Politik (Vienna, 1919); K. W. Rothschild, Austria s Eco
nomic Development Between Two Wars (London, 1947); Lajos Kerekes, Wirtschaf
tliche und soziale Lage sterreichs nach dem Zerfall der D oppelm onarchie, in
Rudolf Neck and Adam Wandruska, eds., Beitrge zur Zeitgeschichte (St. Plten,
1976); and Guliek, Austria, I: 52-55.
56. Pauley, Lebensunfhigkeit, 29-30.
57. Klemens von Klemperer, Ignaz Seipel: Christian Statesman in a Time of Crisis
(Princeton, N.J., 1972), 177ff.
58. But in 1900 Germ an was the language spoken at home by only 36% of the
Viennese: 23% spoke Czech, 17% spoke Polish, and 13% spoke Ruthenian, while the
rest were divided am ong Slovenian, Serbo-Croation, Italian, Rumanian, and H u n
garian. See F,va Viethen, Wiener Arbeiterinnen: Leben zwischen Familie, L ohn
arbeit und politischem Engagement (Ph.D diss., University o f Vienna, 1984), 168.
59. C. A. Macartney, The Social Revolution in Austria (Cambridge, 1926), 98.
60. In 1923 there were 112,000 Czechoslovakian citizens resident in Vienna.
Com bined with the 100,000 to 120,000 Czechs with Austrian citizenship, the total
community was a significant enclave within the Viennese population. See Albert
Lichtblau, esk Vjden: Von d er tschechischen Grossstadt zum tschechischen
D orf, Archiv: Jahrbuch des Vereins f r Geschichte der Arbeiterbewegung 3 (1987): 3 4 41, 45, n. 18.
61. Ibid., 4 1 -4 4 .
62. For the racial anti-Semitism o f G eorg von Schnerer and Karl Leuger, see
Schorske, Fin-de-Siecle Vienna, 126-32, 138 43.

Notes to Pages 25-27

195

63. See Jo h n W. Boyer, Political Radicalism in Late Imperial Vienna: Origins of the
Christian Social Movement (Chicago, 1981), ch. 6.
64. Joseph Roth, Ju d e n a u f Wanderschaft Wien, in Ruth Beckermann, ed.,
Die Mazzesinsel: Juden in der Wiener Leopoldstadt, 1 9 1 8 -1 9 3 8 (Vienna, 1984), 35.

Rotli ends by observing: But they are unemployed proletarians. A peddler is a


proletarian.
65. See Staudinger, Christlichsoziale Judenpolitik, 39. Staudinger points out
that these concentration camps o f 1920 cannot be confused with the brutal Nazi
institutions. Yet, he argues, the notion o f internm ent of Jews was not without influ
ence on later Nazi anti-Semitism.
66. The most visible o f these include the writers Jakob Wasserman, Richard
Beer-Hofmann, A rthu r Schnitzler, Stefan Zweig, Franz Werfel; the theater director
Max Reinhardt; the film directors Michael Kertesz and Alexander Korda; the social
scientists Emil L ederer and Paul Lazersfeld; the psychoanalysts Sigmund Freud,
O tto Fenichel, and Wilhelm Reich; the scientists Rudolf Carnap and Moritz Schlick;
fo u r Nobel laureates in medicine; the businessm enjulius Meindl and Gustav Heller;
and the banker Louis Nathanial Rothschild. This list merely skims the surface o f Jews
prom inent and visible in the public life o f Vienna.
67. The second echelon o f SDAP functionaries who were Jews included David
Joseph Bach, Paul Federn, O tto Leichter, Kthe Leichter, O tto Felix Kanitz, Bene
dikt Kautsky, Edgar Zilsel, Zoltn Ronai, Fritz Rosenfeld, Paul Speiser, Oskar Pollak,
Marianne Pollak, Karl Kautsky, Jr., Leopold Thaller, and Margarete Hilferding.
Lists like this one tend to be haphazard in the absence o f a biographical dictionary
o f Austrian socialism. The nearest thing, though lacking in rigor o f data and unifor
mity, is Georges H aupt, et al., Dictionnaire biographique due movement ouvrier inter
national: Autriche (Paris, 1971).
68. Die Reichspost, Dec. 24, 1918.
69. Cited in P eter G. J. Pulzer, The Rise o f Political Anti-Semitism in Germany and
Austria (New York, 1964), 318.
70. Staudinger, Christlichsoziale Judenpolitik, 19.
71. Ibid., 3 6 -4 2 . Seipel saw several versions o f the proposed laws text and con
sidered a final version as juridically and politically acceptable but not timely. See
also A nton Pelinka, Stand oder Klasse? Die Christliche Arbeiterbewegung sterreichs
(Vienna, 1972), 297-300.
72. Like Karl Lueger, Seipel was prepared to admit that there were some decent
Jews. See Alfred Pfoser, Der Wiener Reigen Skandal: Sexualangst als politisches
Syndrom d er Ersten Republik, in Konrad and M aderthaner, eds., Neuere Studien,
III: 684 -8 6 .
73. The fear that social democracy would be identified with Jewry goes back to
the SDAPs founder, Victor Adler, who at the time o f the Dreyfus Affair distanced
himself from the controversy. By contrast, Leon Blum became a leading Dreyfusard.
See Jack Jacobs, Austrian Social Democracy and the Jewish Question in the First
Republic, in Rabinbach, ed., Austrian Experiment, 158.
74. See the pamphlets Der Judenschwindel, (Vienna, 1923) Wenn Judenblut vom
Messer spritzt, (Vienna, [1932?]) Der Ju d ist schuld, (Vienna, n.d.) and D annebergs
important tract Die Schiebergeschfte der Regierungsparteien: Der Antisemitismus im
Lichte der Tatsachen (Vienna, 1926). All these were published by the SDAP publishing
house. The same tactic o f lighting fire with fire, but also o f using anti-Semitic ste
reotypes to show up llu' anti-Semites, was used in articles appearing in Die Arbeiter-

196

Notes to Pages 2 7-28

Zeitung and Der Kampf. For the above, see Ibid., 158-60, 165-66. See also Bunzel,
Arbeiterbewegung Ju den frage, 760-6 1, and Beckermann, Mazzes-insel, 20. For

citations o f anti-Semitic election posters o f the SDAP and the use o f a Yiddish dialect
parody by a socialist in parliament, see George E. Berkley, Vienna and Its Jews: The
Tragedy of Success, 1 8 8 0 s-1 9 8 0 s (Cambridge, Mass., 1988), 160-61, 166-67.
75. In Weimar Germany the Socialist party (SPD) regularly defended German
Jews from the rising anti-Semitism. Jacobs, Austrian Social Democracy, 163.
76. Cited in Joel Colton, Lon Blum: Humanist in Politics (Durham, N.C.,
1987), 6.
77. See Pierre Birnbaum, Un mythe politique: La Rpublique ju iv e de Lon Blum
Pierre Mends-France (Paris, 1988), 6 1 -8 5 . It has been generally assumed that Austromarxism became the theoretical means o f providing Austrian socialism with the
ideals o f the Enlightenment so largely absent from the intellectual environment o f
the old Dual Monarchy. The relationship between Enlightenment and German cul
ture on the part o f Austromarxism is one o f the subjects o f the second part o f this
chapter.
78. See Wiener Dizesanblatt (Vienna, 1919), 1-3, and St. Pltner Dizensanblatt
(Vienna, 1919), 5-7.
79. O ne afternoon a week was set aside for religious instruction in the schools.
Since a majority o f the pupils were Catholic, a priest came to the classroom, and
children o f other faiths had to take their instruction elsewhere. Marriage ceremonies
had to be religious as well as o f secular record. Only those who had legally established
themselves as having no religion (Konfessionslos) were entitled to a strictly secular
marriage.
80. It would be difficult to find another republic in Europe at that time where
religious officials could hold any public office, least o f all as head o f government.
81. In France, by comparison, leading Catholic intellectuals such as Franois
Mauriac and Jacques Maritain, the Catholic youth, and even Cardinal Verdier, the
archbishop o f Paris, considered collaboration on social issues with working-class
organizations during the early 1930s. In Catholic publications such as Esprit and
Vendredi, a strong anticapitalist cu rrent prevailed. See James Stell, La main tendu e, the French Communist Party and the Catholic Church, 1 9 3 5 -3 7, in Martin
S. Alexander and Helen Graham, eds., The French and Spanish Popular Fronts: Com
parative Perspectives (Cambridge, 1989), 97-100.
82. See Aus christlicher Verantwortung am Schicksal d er sozialistischen Be
wegung teilnehm e: Gesprch mit O tto Bauer, dem Vorsitzenden d er Religisen
Sozialisten, ber die Entwicklung zum 12. Februar 1934, Mitbestimmung 13:5
(1984); 26-29.
83. See Wolfgang M aderthaner, Kirche u n d Sozialdemokratie: Aspekte des
Verhltnisses von politischen Klerikalismus u n d sozialistischer Arbeiterschaft bis
zum Ja h re 1938, in Konrad and M aderthander, eds., Neuere Studien, III: 538-41.
84. Although the Catholic majority in Vienna was 87%, only 10% o f these Cath
olics attended Sunday church service. See Ernst Hanish, Der politische Katholizis
mus als ideologischer Trger des Austrofaschismus, in E. Talos and W. Neuge
bauer,eds., Austrofaschismus: Beitrge ber Politik, konomie und Kultur, 1 9 3 4 -1 9 3 8
(Vienna, 1984), 55 -5 6 .
85. See Der Pionier: Mitteilungsblatt des Landesvereines Wien des Freidenkerbund
sterreichs 4:9 (Sept. 1929): 56. Resignations in 1927 reached 120,000, or every
fiftieth Catholic. More than 80% of these were in Vienna, and 94% o f those were
workers. See Anion Burghardt, Kirche und Arbeiterschaft," in Ferdinand Kloster

Notes to Pages 28-30

197

mann et al., Kirche in sterreich, 1 9 1 8 -1 9 6 5 (Vienna, 1966), 271. By 1933 resigna


tions reached a total o f nearly 200,000. See Pioneer 8:1 (Jan.-Feb. 1933): 101.
86. See Eva Viethen, Wiener A rbeiterinnen, 192-201.
87. The best explanation offered is that the SDAP was simply unprepared to
shoulder the responsibility o f creating a secular republic. Its much touted leftwing
u n d er Friedrich Adler and O tto Bauer was no more ready than anyone else for the
collapse o f the old regime and the vacuum o f power which opened up unforeseen
possibilities. See Berthold Unfried, Positionen d er Linken Innerhalb d er ster
reichischen Sozialdemokratie whrend des 1. Weltkrieges, in Konrad and Maderthaner, eds., Neuere Studien, II: 319-60.
88. See G erhard Steger, Rote Fahne Schwarzes Kreuz: Die Haltung der Sozialdemo
kratischen Arbeiterpartei sterreichs zu Religion, Christentum und Kirchen von Hainfeld
bis 1934 (Vienna, 1987), 29699. See also Paul M. Zulehner, Kirche und Autromarxismus: Eine Studie zur Problematik Kirche-Staat-Gesellschaft (Vienna, 1967).
89. O tto Bauer, Sozialdemokratie, Religion, und Kirche: Ein Beitrag zur Erluterung
des Linzer Programms (Vienna, 1927), 5160.

90. A m ere listing o f these would fill a small volume. I have found the following
books particularly suggestive. By far the analytically sharpest and speculatively most
original treatm ent o f Austromarxism is scattered throughout Rabinbachs Crisis,
passim and chs. 1-2, and supports the growing opinion that this is the most impor
tant political study o f Austrian socialism to appear since Gulicks work forty years
ago. At the non theoretical end o f the spectrum, the encyclopedic volume by Ernst
Glaser, Im Umfeld des Austromarxismus: Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte des sterrichischen
Sozialismus (Vienna, 1981), is an indispensable com pendium of every intellectual and
cultural figure in the German-speaking world who might in any way be associated
with Austromarxism. Even such nonsocialist moths as H erm ann Broch, Elias
Canetti, Alfred Adler, and Karl P opper are shown to be drawn to the Austromarxist
flame, giving weight to the latters fashionable modernity and attractiveness based
on the absence o f theoretical clarity. O th er useful works include: Kuhlmann, Beispiel
Austromarxismus, 3 1 -3 8 , 25 0 -5 2 , 25 6 -7 1 , and 3 8 0 -8 8; Tom Bottomore, Intro
duction, in Tom Bottomore and Patrick Goode, eds., Austro-Marxism (Oxford,
1978); Alfred Pfoser, Literatur und Austromarxismus (Vienna, 1980), 933; Raimund
Low, Siegfried Mattl, Alfred Pfabigan, Der Austromarxismus eine Autopsie: Drei Sta
dien (Frankfurt/M ain, 1986); and one o f the earliest studies, now quite unfairly rel
egated to the dustbin o f history, N orbert I.esers Zwischen Reformismus und Bolschevismus: Der Austromarxismus als Theorie und Praxis (Vienna, 1968), which, in the
conclusion especially, analyzes the myth o f unity in Austromarxism.
91. In the late 1970s a num ber o f E uropean socialist parties, while searching foi
programs that went beyond exhausted social democracy and would appeal to new
audiences, reported to have found a historical forebear in Austromarxism and par
ticularly in O tto Bauers third way. See, for instance, Giacomo Marramao, Austromarxismo e socialismo di sinistra fra le due guerre (Milan, 1978), and Jean-Pierre Chevenem ent, Les Socialistes, les communistes et les autres (Paris, 1977). The latter is echoed
in the official French Socialist party program: Projet socialiste pour la France des annees
8 0 (Paris, 1980). T here is no indication that any o f the European socialists flirting
with Austromarxism had a very clear idea o f what attracted them: a vague association
between the abortive Austrian factory councils and autogestion, or between the Vien
nese worker culture and "le gout tie xiivre"? The Kreuch so< ialists in power seem to
have settled for a mixture of social-democratic/liberal reforms and have kept theil
distance f rom any theoretical justification, Ausiromarxisi o r otherwise.

198

Notes to Pages 30-32

92. Gulick, Austria, II: 1363-1400. After locating Austromarxism somewhat


vaguely as a dynamic prewar non-Bernsteinian revisionism, Gulick congratulates it
for being a pragmatic and nondogmatic theory adapted to the challenges after 1918.
Later in his discussion Gulick is more sensible and specific in calling Austromarxism
the theory o f O tto Bauer on the balance o f class forces. That, from this writers
view, is a splendid beginning, but it leaves out the cultural potentiality opened up
for socialism, which was so central to Bauers formulation.
93. Was ist Austromarxismus?, Arbeiter-Zeitung, Nov. 3, 1927, cited in HansJrg Sandkhler and Rafael de la Vega, eds., Austromarxismus: Texte zu Ideologie und
Klassenkampf (Vienna, 1970), 4 9 -5 4 . In November 1927 the party was still shaken
by the bloody confrontation between workers and police o f July 15, which was widely
viewed as a setback. Bauer seems to have avoided any engagement o f Austromarxism
with the concrete divisions in the party.
94. Marxism: An Historical and Critical Study (New York, 1963), 302ft. The other
groups associated with the political storms of 1905-1906 and identified as a gener
ation by Lichtheim include the German-Polish group: K. Liebknecht, R. Luxem
burg, L. Jogiches, A. L. Parvus, and K. Radek; the Mensheviks, including Trotsky;
and the Bolsheviks aro u n d Lenin.
95. For fine points on biographical information I am indebted particularly to two
psychohistorical studies: P eter Loewenberg, Decoding the Past: The Psychohistorical
Approach (New York, 1983), and Mark E. Blum, The Austro-Marxists, 1 8 9 0 -1 9 1 8 : A
Psychobiographical Study (Lexington, Ky., 1985). See also Julius Braunthal, Victor und
Friedrich Adler: Zwei Generationen Arbeiterbewegung (Vienna, 1965), and Jacques Hannak, Karl Renner und seine Zeit (Vienna, 1965).
96. Leon Trotsky, who traveled in the circle o f Austromarxists before the war,
observed that behind the thinkers he saw a phalanx of young Austrian politicians,
who have join ed the party in the firm conviction that an approximate familiarity with
Roman law gives a man the inalienable right to direct the fate o f the working class.
Cited in Isaac Deutscher, The Prophet Armed: Trotsky, 1 8 7 9 -1 9 2 1 (Oxford, 1963),
185-86.
97. See O tto Bauer, Die Nationalittenfrage und die Sozialdemoratie, Marx-Studien
II (Vienna, 1907), and Rudolf Hilferding, Das Finanzkapital: Fine Studie ber die
jngste Entwicklung des Kapitalismus, Marx-Studien III (Vienna, 1910).
98. Rudolf Springer [Karl Renner], Der K am pf der sterreichischen Nation um den
Staat (Leipzig and Vienna, 1902), and Bauer, Nationalittenfrage.
99. Max Adler, Kausalitt und Teleologie im Streite um die Wissenschaft, Marx-Stu
dien I (Vienna, 1904), and Friedrich Adler, Ernst Machs berwindung des mechanischen
Materialismus (Vienna, 1918).
100. According to Alfred Pfabigan: The characteristics o f cultural life in Vienna
at the turn o f the century inevitably became the characteristics o f Austromarxism.
Die austromarxistische Denkweise, in Low, Mattl, Pfabigan, Autopsie, 103. This
schematic view overstates the case. It is the cultural and political tensions in Vienna
which exerted a special influence on the Austromarxists.
101. For the Austrian socialists awareness o f and grappling with the nationality
problem, see Hans Mommsen, Die Sozialdemokratie und die Nationalittenfrage im
Habsburgischen Vielvlkerstaat (Vienna, 1963), especially pp. 3 6 2 -4 2 2 on the impact
o f the Russian Revolution o f 1905 and the disintegrating effect o f nationalism on
the SDAP.
102. Bruno Bettelheim, Freud's Vienna and Other Essays (New York, 1990), 3-1 7.
103. Lichtheim further traces this radicali/.ation am ong the Viennese Marxists

Notes to Pages 32-36


to "th e inherited conviction that East Europe was about to en ter a revolutionary
era. . . . Vienna thus became a centre o f political radicalism as well as theoretical
Marxism. Marxism, 303.
104. In the context o f the fin de sicle," H. Stuart Hughes reminds us, the
thought o f the eighteenth century seldom figured in its pure o r original form: it
appeared overlaid with the late nineteenth-century accretions that had deform ed
it materialism, positivism, and the more vulgar forms o f humanitarianism. Con
sciousness and Society: The Reorientation of European Social Thought, 1 8 9 0 -1 9 3 0 (New
York, 1958), 97.
105. Bottomore, Auslro-Marxism, 8-10.
106. For the influence o f Mach on Austromarxism directly and indirectly
through the Vienna Circle, See Friedrich Stadler, Vom Positivismus zur Wissenschaft
lichen Weltauffassung': Am Beispiel der Wirkungsgeschichte von Ernst Mach in sterreich
von 1895 bis 1934 (Vienna, 1982).

107. It is at the Caf Central that Trotsky met the Austromarxists. The postwar
Austromarxists, led by Bauer, made the Central their home away from home.
108. See Siegfried Mattl, Einleitung, in Lw, Mattl, Pfabigan, Autopsie, 5.
109. O n Friedrich Adler, see Braunthal, V. and F. Adler, chs. 17-19. O n the
councils o f 1 918-1919 and the revolutionary climate, see G ruber, Communism Era
o f Lenin, 175-81. For A dlers abortive attem pt to unify the socialist parties, see Julius
Braunthal, History o f the International (New York), 1967), II: chs. 911. Though Adler
was largely absent from the Austrian scene, he continued to play a role as a staunch
su p po rter o f O tto Bauer in his interpretation of Austromarxism as well as on purely
tactical questions.
110. But Renner was already an outsider in relation to the new so-called left
which gained prom inence in the SDAP during the war. At that time, Friedrich Adler
had attacked R enner for his patriotic position on the war, calling him the Leuger
o f social democracy.
111. See H anno Dreschler, Die Sozialistische Arbeiterpartei Deutschlands (SADP):
Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der deutschen Arbeiterbewegung am Ende der Weimarer Repub
lik (Meisenheim am Glan, 1965), 21-23.

112.1
apologize to those who enjoy a full presentation o f complicated ideas for
riding roughshod over philosophic elegances and even essences in my attem pt to
extract only those themes pertinent to the subject o f this book.
113. See Pfabigan, Adler, ch. 7, which has a section entitled Kant becomes a
social democrat. This chapter gives the best critical reading o f A dlers philosophical
Marxist excursions.
114. The following works o f Adler, in addition to Kausalitt, are particularly use
ful here: Die sozialistische Idee d er Befreiung, Der Kam pf 11 (1918); Der Sozial
ismus und die Intellektuellen (Vienna, 1910); Der soziologische Sinn der Lehre von Karl
Marx (Leipzig, 1914); and Kant und der Marxismus (Berlin, 1925).
115. Rabinbachs characterization o f the contradiction is telling: a permanent
tension between automatic and teleological laws o f history and the practical efforts
o f the hum an subject. In other words, a contradiction between preparatory cul
tural strategy and objective reality. Crisis, 12526.
I 16. See Hilferding, Finanzkapital (Berlin, 1955), I 74-75; Lichtheim, Marxism,
31 0-14 ; Bottomore, Austro-Marxism, 3334.
1 17. S e e Pfabigan, Max Adler, 3 14 - 2 3 .
I 18. Mattl suggests that the Ausl l omarxisl founders were intellectually old-fash
ioned in clinging to Ihe already outm oded nineteenth cenlm y philosophic ideas, and

200

Notes to Pages 36-39

that they were unfamiliar with the newest work in positivism, econometrics, and psy
choanalysis, all o f which were were very current in the Vienna o f their time. See Ein
leitung, in Lw, Mattl, Pfabigan, Autopsie, 7.
119. No do ubt Germ an culture was more developed than the others in the Dual
Monarchy. But the issue went beyond the question o f the quality of ideas. In the
Vienna o f 1914, with a 2.1 million population o f which non-Germans represented
more than a third, 1,475 German-language newspapers and periodicals were pub
lished as com pared to 60 in all other languages. Statistiches Jahrbuch der Stadt Wien
(Vienna, 1918), 32 (1914): 48283. By the outbreak o f World War I, R enners philoGermanism had tu rn ed into chauvinism. See Blum, Austro-Marxists, 172-74.
120. Crisis, 7.
121. Even as late as 1924, when Max Adler tried to provide the theoretical ju s
tification for the SDAP Bildung program already put into practice, he insisted that
education for the proletariat must come from the book and not from experience.
See Neue Menschen: Gedanken ber sozialisistische Erziehung (Berlin, 1924), 109-10.
Part o f the working-class culture being developed in Vienna, involving the largest
n um ber o f participants, had little or nothing to do with book learning (sports and
festivals, for instance).
122. See Kulmann, Austromarxismus, 3 4 -3 8 ; Bottomore, Austro-Marxism, 1 522; and P eter Heintel, System und Ideologie: Der Austromarxismus im Spiegel der Phi
losophie Max Adlers (Vienna, 1967), 15ff .
123. Hughes, Consciousness, 107-8.
124. For the following discussion of this key concept underlying the socialist cul
tural experiment, see especially the sophisticated analysis in Rabinbach, Crisis, 3 9 45, 6 0 -6 3 , 119-20. See also Bauer, sterreichische Revolution, 132-40, 175-84, 228,
259, 2 5 8-60 ; Bauer, Das Gleichgewicht d er Klassenkrfte, Der K am pf 17 (Jan.
1924): 5 7 -6 7 ; as well as Kulemann, Beispiel, 238 -4 2 , and Pfoser, Literatur, 18-21.
125. Particularly a balance o f classes leading to a pause in history. See Ruhe
pausen d e r Geschichte, Der Kam pf 3 (Sept. 1910), and Volksverm ehrungund sozi
ale Entwicklung, ibid., 7 (April 1914).
126. At virtually the same time Trotsky wrote about the contradictory relation
ship between culture and revolution. In Western Europe, he argued, the richer the
history o f the working class the more education, tradition, and accomplish
ments the more difficult it would be to gather it into a revolutionary unity, because
the privileges o f bourgeois democracy and freedoms would tie them to the bourgeois
order. Leon Trotsky, Fragen des Alltaglebens: Die Epoche der Kulturarbeit und ihre
Aufgaben (Hamburg, 1923), 24.
127. The inheritor party role, to which the SDAP subscribed, hewed to the
orthodox Marxist evolutionary position that in some dim future when the bo ur
geoisie would be unable to rule, social democracy would assume power with a min
imum o f resistance. See Peter Nettl, The G erm an Social Democratic Party as a
Political Model, 1 8 9 0 -1 9 14 , Past and Present 30 (1965): 67.
128. Lowenberg calls Bauers ambivalence and doubt leading to the avoidance
o f decisions and actions obsessing. See Decoding, 181. Bauers cultural optimism
and political immobility were sustained in the SDAP by conceptions o f loyalty
which, by reducing criticism to a ritual, foreclosed inner-party democracy. See
Leser, Zwischen, 350-51.
129. Dieter G roh, Negative Integration und revolutionrer Attentismus: Die deutsche
Sozialdemokratie am Vorabend des Ersten Weltkrieges (Frankfurt/M ain, 1973). G roh s
characterization o f German prewar social democracy is well suited to (he postwar
SDAP, espec ially its subslilulion ol Bildung fin political action.

Notes to Pages 39-41

201

130. See Adler, Neue Menschen, 2 2 -2 4 , 92, 109, and Pfabigan, Adler, 198-213.
131. Hans Kelsen, Dr. O tto Bauers politische Theorie, Der Kam pf 17 (Feb.
1924): 50 -5 6 . Kelsen put his finger on a major weakness in the Bauerian Austromarxist formulation adopted by the SDAP: its lack o f influence in the workplace,
where the trade unions were largely ineffectual.
132. O tto Leichter, Zum Problem d er sozialen Gleichgewichtzustnde, Der
Kam pf 17 (May 1924): 184.
133. See Das Linzer Program m d er Sozialdemokratischen Arbeiterpartei
sterreichs, 1926, in Albert Kadan and Anton Pelinka, eds., Die Grundsatzpro
gramme der sterreichischen Parteien: Dokumentation und Analyse (Vienna, 1979), 8 1 88, for the social and cultural program. See also Gulick, Austria, II: 1389-1400.
134. It was the most im portant right-wing paramilitary organization, initially
organized in 1 918-19 to defend the as-yet-undetermined Austrian borders. It
became the param ount provincial armed force poised against Vienna during the
republic. It was supported by big business and finance, large landowners such as
Ernst Rdiger Stahrenberg, Catholic political leaders like Seipel, Dollfuss, and
Schuschnigg, Catholic priests, petty bourgeois, and peasants. It was strongly m on
archist and used force and te rro r to oppose socialism and any idea o r act contrary
to Catholic teaching. As the principal exponent o f Austrofascism before 1934, it was
overtaken by the Nazi SA after 1930. See Bruce F. Pauley, Hahnenschwanz und Hack
enkreuz: Steirischer Heimatschutz und sterreichischer Nationalsozialismus (Vienna,
1972), and C. Earl Edmondson, The Heimwehr and, Austrian Politics, 1 9 1 8 -1 9 3 6 (Ath
ens, Ga., 1978).
135. Point III o f the program entitled The Struggle for Control o f the State.
Das Linzer Programm, 78-81.
136. Adler had been a m em ber o f the program committee. See Dreschler, Sozial
istische Arbeiterpartei, 30 -3 2. For Adlers position as well as his intervention in the
debates, see Protokoll des sozialdemokratischen Parteitages, 1 92 6 (Vienna, 1926), 19 9200, 286, 292, and 3 1 0 -1 4 , and Leser, Zwischen, 3 8 2 -9 8 , for the debates in general.
The congress accepted the program unanimously.
137. Protokoll, 1926, 272.
138. In reading Das Programm d er Christlichsozialen Partei, 1926 one gets
the impression that open confrontation was not so unexpected in the opposition
camp. Kadan and Pelinka, eds., Grundsatzprogramme, 115-16. The program takes as
its guidelines the principles o f Christianity, that is, the ethics and morals o f the Cath
olic church. It decisively rejects every attem pt to create the dictatorship o f a class,
dem ands the cultivation o f German behavior, and combats the predominance o f
the dem oralizingjewish influence on intellectual and economic life.
139. For the events surrounding July 15 and its implications, see G erhard Botz,
Die Ereignisse des 15. Ju li 1927: Protokoll des Symposiums in Wien am 15 Juni 1977
(Vienna, 1979), 17-59; Botz, Gewalt, 141-60; Rabinbach, Crisis, 3 2 -3 4 , 4 8-50 ;
O tto Leichter, Glanz und Elend der Ersten Republik: Wie es zum sterreichische Br
gerkrieg kam (Vienna, 1964), 4 5 -6 8 ; Leser, Zwischen, 199-428; Gulick, Austria, I:
71 7-71 ; Pfoser, Literatur, 24-26.
140. Botz, Gewalt, 144. Aside from the inflammatory article by Friedrich Aus
terlitz, editor-in-chief o f Die Arbeiter-Zeitung, no socialist leader o r trade union offi

cial o r Schutzbund functionary gave the workers any guidance or leadership during
the crucial hours before the outbreak o f violence. Only when the Palace o f Justice
was already on fire and the workers prevented the fire trucks from getting through,
did Mayor Seitz intervene to secure a passage for the vehii les.
I I I . Foi a o n e - s i d e d d e f e n s e of S e i p e l s a c tio n s, ec K l e m p c r e i , Seipel, 2 6 2 6 9

202

Notes to Pages 42-46

142. See Frei, Rotes Wien, 60, and Gulick, Austria, I: 712-13.
143. See Protokoll des sozialdemokratischen Parteitages, 1927 (Vienna, 1927), 13811.
144. See Alfred Pfabigan, Revolutionrer Geist: Max Adler (1873-1937) und
d er Austromarxismus, Archiv: Jahrbuch des Vereins f r Geschichte der Arbeiterbewe
gung 3 (1987): 6 1 -6 2 . Adlers attack on the party caused a scandal. H enceforth he
was isolated in the party, was no longer delegated to congresses, and had difficulty
being published in Austria. As a result, his activity shifted more to Berlin.
145. Cited by Pfoser, Literatur, 25.
146. Gulick, Austria, 1:71771. He concludes this chapter with the thought that
Austrian labor and democracy had begun the slow descent to defeat.
147. That such absolute loyalty to the idol of unity could no longer be relied on
is exposed in Rabinbachs Crisis, where the ultimately ineffectual opposition to
Bauer from the partys left is the major theme.
148. That the S1)AP succeeded in receiving 59 percent o f the vote in Viennese
municipal elections to the very end o f the republic suggests that the voter confidence
o f the workers continued to be strong despite the setback o f July 15.

C h a p te r 3
1. When the socialist mayor Jakob Reum ann assumed olfice in May 1919, he
promised no less than a quantitive and qualitative improvement in the social net and
asserted that the well-to-do would have to shoulder a large part o f the cost. Arbeiter
zeitu ng, May 23, 1919, cited in Franz Patzer, Streiflichter a u f die Wiener Kom m unal
politik, 1 9 1 9 -1 9 3 4 (Vienna, 1978), 11-12.
2. See Julius Bunzel, Der Wohnungsmarkt und die Wohnungspolitik, in Julius
Bunzel, Beitrge zur stdtischen Wohn- und Siedelwirtschaft: III. Wohnungsfragen in
sterreich (Leipzig, 1930), 107; Felix Czeike, Wirtschafts- und Sozialpolitik der Geimeitule Wien, 1 9 1 9 -1 9 3 4 (Vienna, 1959), 16-17. The reader is alerted to the fact
that the numerical figures and related statistics on virtually all aspects o f municipal
socialism vary, at times considerably. This is due in large part to the use of diff erent
statistical yearbooks with varying systems o f notation to provide comparative and
long-range information. I will indicate those instances where the differences become
significant.
3. The soundest analysis o f socialist communal policies is still to be found in Rai
n er Baubck, Wohnungspolitik im sozialdemokratischen Wien, 1 9 1 9 -1 9 3 4 (Salzburg,
1979), and Maren Seliger, Sozialdemokratie und Kommunalpolitik in Wien: Zu einigen
Aspekten sozialdemokratischer Politik in der Vor- und Zwischenkiriegszeit (Vienna, 1980).
4. Czeike, Wirtschafts/Sozialpolitik, 55 -5 6 .
5. For the origins and development o f the concept o f ordentliche Arbeiterfa
milie, see Joseph Ehmer, Familie und Klasse: Zur Entstehung der Arbeiterfamilie
in Wien, in Michael M itterauer and Reinhard Sieder, eds., Historische Familienfor
schung (Frankfurt/M ain, 1982).
6. See Karl Sablik, Julius Tandler: M ediziner und Sozialreformer (Vienna, 1983),
70 -7 4. Environmentalism also led the socialists to embrace the ego psychology o f
Alfred Adler, with its promise o f personality restructuring, in preference to the more
pessimistic psychoanalysis o f Siegmund F'reud.
7. T h a t i n c l u d e s s o m e 3 , 6 0 4 d w e llin g s c r e a t e d with m o r t g a g e f u n d s b e t w e e n
1 9 1 9 a n d 1 9 2 3 ( b e f o r e t h e first in n o v a t i v e h o u s i n g p r o g r a m b a s e d o n a n e w sy ste m
o f t a x a t io n ) , as well as t h o s e still u n d e r c o n s t r u c t i o n in 1 934. S e e C h a r l e s A. Gulick,
A ustria: From 1labslturg to H itler (B erk eley, Calif., 19 4 8 ), I: 4 3 4 , 4 5 0 . B a u h c k , W ohn-

Notes tt>Pages 46-49

203

ungspolitik, 152, gives a total o f 63,071 domiciles built, and o ther sources fluctuate
by as much as 3,000 for reasons not discernable.
8. The new municipal housing accounted for 10.4% of all Viennese housing in
1934. Density o f domicile occupation had declined from 4.14 in 1910 to 3.03 in
1934. Baubck, Wohnungspolitik, 152.
9. See Karl Honay, A ufbauarbeit in Krisenzeiten. Der Wiener Stadthaushalt im
Ja h re 1932, Der Sozialdemokrat 1 (1932): 6 -8 . For similar self-congratulation, see
Robert D anneberg, Zehn Jahre Neues Wien (Vienna, 1929), 50-56 . Both were mem
bers o f the city council.
10. Baubck, Wohnungspolitik, 154, and Kthe Leichter, So leben w ir . . . 1320
Industrie-arbeiterinnen berichten ber ihr Leben (Vienna, 1932), 84.
11. For examples, see Klaus Novy, Der Wiener Gemeindewohnungsbau:
Sozialisierung von u n te n , ARCH: Zeitschrift fr Architekten, Sozialarbeiter und kom
munalpolitische (Wuppen 45 (July 1979); Hans H autm ann and Rudolf H autm ann,
H ubert Gessner und das Konzept des Volkswohnungspalasts, Austriaca: Cahiers
universitaires d information sur l Autriche 12 (May 1981); Wolfgang Speiser, Paul
Speiser und das rote Wien (Munich, 1979), 5 0 -5 2 ; and Hans H autm ann and Rudolf
Kropf, Die sterreichische Arbeiterbewegung vom Vormrz bis 1945 (Vienna, 1974), 14648. A refreshing contrast to the tendency to heroize and celebrate a mythic socialist
Vienna is Helmut W eihsm anns Das Rote Wien: Sozialdemokratische Architektur und
Kommunalpolitik, 1 9 1 9 -1 9 3 4 (Vienna, 1985).
12. Bunzel, W ohnungsm arkt/W ohnungspolitik, lists 9,720 such accommo
dations still existing in 1923 (109-10). H e also indicates that in 1919 16.9% o f all
apartm ents still harb o red subtenants and bed renters (107).
13. See J. Robert Wegs, Growing Up Working Class: Continuity and Change Among
Viennese Youth, 1 8 9 0 -1 9 3 8 (Pennsylvania, 1989), 39 -4 2 ; Peter Feldbauer, Stadt
wachstum und Wohnungsnot: Determinanten unzureichender Wohnungsversorgung in
Wien, 1 8 4 8 -1 9 1 4 (Vienna, 1977), 202-4.

14. For previous tenant insecurity, the power o f landlords, and tenant nom ad
ism, see Michael Jo h n , Hausherrenmacht und Mieterelend: Wohnverhltnisse und Wohnerfahrung der Unterschichten in Wien, 1 8 9 0 -1 9 2 3 (Vienna, 1982), 2967.
15. Czeike, Wirtschafts/Sozialpolitik, 16-17.
16. See Wilfred Posch, Die Wiener Gartenstadt Bewegung: Reformversuch zwischen
Erster und Zweiter Grnderzeit (Vienna, 1981), and Klaus Novy, Selbsthilfe als
Reformbewegung: Der K ampf der Wiener Siedler nach dem 1. Weltkrieg, ARCH
55 (March 1981).
17. Czeike, Wirtschafts/Sozialpolitik, 3031.
18. See Baubck, Wohnungspolitik, 9199; Seliger, Sozialdemokratie und Kommun
alpolitik, 9 9 -1 02 ; Czeike, Wirtschafts/Sozialpolitik, 7 8 -8 3 , 89-90 .
19. See Alfred G eorg Frei, Rotes Wien: Austromarxismus und Arbeiterkultur
Sozialdemokratische Wohnungs- und Kommunalpolitik, 1 9 1 9 -1 9 3 4 (Berlin, 1984), 8 3 84.
20. Czeike, Wirtschafts/Sozialpolitik, 3 9-41 ; Baubck, Wohnungspolitik, 123-38;
Seliger, Sozialdemokratie/Kommunalpolitik, 115-36; Frei, Rotes Wien, 8384; Gulick,
Austria, I: 44959.
21. The right-wing press went into a frenzy over this tax, calling it pure expro
priation. Breitner was smeared with anti-Semitic slurs, to which the SDAP failed to
respond forcefully. Ironically, even the wealthiest tenants were the beneficiaries o f
the rent-control law and, despite the allegedly unbearable lax, paid no more than
37% of prewar rents. Czeike, Wirlscha/ls/Soiialpolitik, 40.

204

Notes to Pages 49-51

22. At the time the socialist press made much o f the champagne and caviar, race
horses and sports cars o f the rich being taxed for the benefit of the Viennese little
m an. They neglected to mention that even the little m ans entertainm ent, especially
admissions to cinema, Variet, circus, and football matches were somehow also clas
sified as luxuries.
23. See Adelheid von Saldern, Sozialdemokratie und kommunale Wohnungs
baupolitik in den 20er Ja h re n am Beispiel von H am burg und Wien, Archiv f r
Sozialgeschichte 25 (1985): 195-97. Von Saldern uses 1925 as a sample year to indi
cate that the housing tax brought in 23% and luxury taxes 20% o f the budget for the
building fund. I would increase this income by 10-15% for the years through 1929.
Czeike points out that part o f the compromise by which the rent-control law was
weakened in 1929 included specific federal subvention o f Viennese housing projects
u n d er construction. In all likelihood this assistance was marginal. See Czeike, Wirt
schafts/Sozialpolitik, 44, 91.
24. The Christian Socials applied pressure in parliament against rent control in
1925 in o rd er to defeat the renewal of the housing requisitioning law as part o f a
compromise. For this and oth er attacks on rent control and the housing program,
see the detailed presentation in Gulick, Austria, I: 466-503.
25. Seliger, Sozialdemokratie und Kommunalpolitik, 137-39.
26. Baubck, Wohnungspolitik, 108-14.
27. Peter Feldbauer and Wolfgang Hsl, Die Wohnungsverhaltnisse der Wie
n er Unterschichten und die Anfnge des genossenschaftlichen Wohn- und Sied
lungswesens, in G erhard Botz, Hans H autm ann, Helmut Konrad, Joseph Weiden
holzer, eds., Bewegung und Klasse: Studien zur sterreichischen Arbeitergeschichte
(Vienna, 1978), 6 9 0 -9 1 . This plan o f E. H. Aigde was rejected by conservative indus
trialists who feared that such concentrated housing would lead to worker solidarity
and radicalism.
28. Feldbauer and Hsl, Wohnungsverhltnisse, 698-99.
29. See the excellent textual and photographic presentation o f the historical
precedents o f communal housing in Vienna in Weihsmann, Rote Wien, 67 -9 9 .
30. See O tto Bauer, Der Weg zum Sozialismus (Vienna, 1919), 116-21, for the
following.
31. See the photo essay in the exhibition catalog M it uns zieht die neue Zeit: Arbei
terkultur in sterreich, 1 9 1 8 -1 9 3 4 (Vienna, 1981), 70-72. The myth, created by
SDAP spokesmen in the 1920s, that the cost o f the building program was borne by
the rich paying the housing tax, is repeated there (68).
32. See Michael Jo h n , The Im portance o f N eighborhood Relationships and
Grass Roots Movements in Red Vienna, 19 1 9 -1 93 4 , 8, 13. Unpublished paper
available at the Verein fr Geschichte der Arbeiterbewegung, Vienna. Jo h n col
lected some forty histories; Reinhard Sieder more than sixty; and Gottfried Pirhofer
and Peter Feldbauer considerable additional ones. Most are available on tape and
typed transcription at the Institut fr Wirtschafts- u n d Sozialgeschichte o f the Uni
versity of Vienna.
33. See Franz Patzer, Zeittafel smtlicher Sitzungen des Wiener Gemeinderates
von 1918 bis 1934 mit den wichtigsten V erhandlungspunkten, wie Kundgebungen,
Wahlen, Beschlsse, Anfragen, Antrgen, usw., Streiflichter a u f die Wiener Kommun
alpolitik, 1 9 1 9 -1 9 3 4 (Vienna, 1978), 61-1 2 3.
34. The argument, for instance, dial the ulterior motive of the socialist building
program was to p repare strategically for c ivil war, was repeated ad nauseam. Ibid.,
46.

Notes to Pages 51-54

205

35. See Informationsblatt des Bezirksmuseums Rudolfsheim-Fnfhaus, and Gottfried


Pirhofer, Gemeinschaftshaus und Massenwohnungsbau, Transparent 3 /4 (1977):
38 -4 2.
36. Stenographischer Bericht ber die Sitzung des Gemeinderates, March 9, 1923. Wie
n er Stadt- und Landesarchiv. I am grateful to Joseph Ehmer for having drawn my
attention to these protocols.
37. Ibid., April 24, 1925, 100-108. Archiv der Stadt Wien.
38. The German Handwrterbuch des Wohnungswesens of 1930 designated Heim
h o f as a model Einkchenhaus. See Pirhofer, Einkiichenhaus, 40. The Bezirks
museum Rudolfsheim-Fnfhaus, 1150 Vienna, Rosinagasse 4, has a model o f Heimh o f on perm anent exhibit as well as taped reminiscences o f form er tenants and a
publicity film o f 1922. The urban archaeology, done by the group o f academics and
teachers who run this district museum as volunteers, is first-rate.
39. Einkchenhaus, Arbeiter-Zeitung, Ju n e 2, 1923.
40. See Leichter, So leben wir, 85-87.
4 I . F'or Kthe Leichters study o f homeworkers and female factory workers
based on survey techniques, see ch. 6 on the family. The most original and famous
social science analysis, done at the request o f O tto Bauer by Marie Jahoda, Paul Lazersfeld, and Hans Zeisel, Die Arbeitslosen von Marienthal: Ein soziographischer Versuch
(Leipzig, 1933), showed how inventive Austrian social science could be in studying
worker life-styles and needs.
42. See Helmut G ruber, Preface, in Wolfgang M adqrthaner and Helmut
G ruber, eds., Chance und Illusion: Labor in Retreat (Vienna, 1988), 25-27.
43. For this very useful schema o f SDAP organization, see Mark F',. Blum, The
Austro-Marxists, 1 8 9 0 -1 9 1 8 : A Psychobiographical Study (Lexington, 1985), 11-14.
Austrian social democracy, Blum suggests, "provided [the intellectual] with an
audience that ineluctably fed his ego while maintaining his isolation from the work
ing class (13).
44. How powerful they were in turning back o r neutralizing the feeble left oppo
sition which developed in the party after 1927 is amply dem onstrated in Anson
Rabinbach, The Crisis of Austrian Socialism: From Red Vienna to C ivil War, 1927-1934
(Chicago, 1983), especially ch. 6.
45. For an enlightening discussion on socialist party democracy, see Peter Kulemann, Am Beispiel des Austromarxismus: Sozialdemokratische Arbeiterbewegung in ster
reich von Hainfeld bis zur Dollfuss-Diktatur (Hamburg, 1979), 3 0 9 - 18.
46. Ibid., 309, 315. K ulem anns figures are for 1929 and 1932 respectively. I
have adjusted both to the 1932 date.
47. Ibid., 316 -1 8 . Kulemann gives figures for 1928-32 and indicates that the
spread o f salary differences grew larger with time, a problem the party secretary
D anneberg was aware o f but could do little to alter significantly.
48. No substantial and significant archives have been discovered for these three
o r for o th er principal leaders. It is doubtful, as one is always told, that such valuable
records were completely destroyed during the war. T here is no biography extant of
Seitz. O tto Leichters Otto Bauer: Tragdie oder Triumph? (Vienna, 1970), as well as
Leon Kanes Robert Danneberg: Ein pragmatischer Realist (Vienna, 1980), are quite
general and superficial.
49 . T h e r e was a sm all a m o u n t o f fierc e criticism f r o m c o m m u n i s t t e n a n t s in t h e
h o u s i n g p r o j e c t s a n d w o rk ing -c la ss n e i g h b o r h o o d s , as well as f r o m tiny cells o f a n at
chists, I will r e f e r to t h e s e h o l o g r a p h e d n e w s l e tt e r s a n d b r o a d s i d e s in d isc u ssin g
social a d a p t a t i o n to t h e ne w h o u sin g .

206

Notes to Pages 55-56

50. In view o f the 68,858 persons seeking apartments in 1924, the first building
program did little to alleviate the crisis. See Czeike, Wirtschafts/Sozialpolitik, 17. Not
all o f the apartm ent hunters needed a new o r diff erent apartment. In many instances
upgrading o f existing habitations would have been acceptable.
51. Such exaggerations are prevalent even am ong some younger Austrian his
torians. See for instance Michael Jo hn , Hausherrenmacht und Mieterelend, 1 8 9 0 -1 9 2 3
(Vienna, 1982). O ne leafs with fascination through the photographs in this book,
which illustrate only the most decrepit habitations and surroundings.
52. See Wegs, Growing Up Working Class, 25-27 .
53. For brief periods I have lived in two such form er tenements: in the 20th dis
trict in 1938-39 and in the 5th district in 1981. Both had a living room /kitchen,
bedroom , and a half room; both (originally) did not have a toilet, running water, or
gas. I would ju d g e the total space in both to be 50m2 (540 ft2). The ceilings were 3m
(10 ft) high and therefore gave a larger aspect to the rooms than their size would
suggest. In both apartments the kitchens faced a long interior building corridor but
had a window as well. In that corridor a water tap (Basena) and a toilet had served all
the apartments. The stairwells and corridors were wide and commodious. These
examples are not m eant to ennoble the far-from-ideal quality o f the tenements but
simply to indicate that the quality o f such housing conformed to a wide spectrum. I
would ju d g e that 25% o f such tenements were barely habitable; that 50% were just
adequate, considering the quality o f cheaper housing in Vienna in general; and that
25% were livable and even desirable as interior domicile and exterior structure.
54. See for example Anton Weber, Die Wohnungsprobleme und die Gemeinde Wien
(Vienna, 1927), and Die wohnungspolitik der Gemeinde Wien (Vienna, 1929). In addi
tion, num erous pamphlets rolled off the SDAP printing presses on the accomplish
ments o f the socialist municipality, with housing in the forefront. The formula of
presentation was quite simple: b efore/after, decaying/blooming, ugly/beautiful, suf
fering/rejuvenated, etc. Robert Danneberg, the party secretary, usually signed these
achievement reports.
55. In the hopeless postwar real estate market, housing stock as well as land was
a glut on the market. Landlords were happy to be rid o f their unprofitable houses at
one-quarter o f their prewar prices. See Fritz C. Wulz, Stadt in Vernderung: Eine
architektur-politische Studie von Wien inden Jahren 1 8 4 8 -1 9 3 4 (Stockholm, 1978), II:
439. It would have been possible for the municipality to acquire such tenements at
very low cost and to improve the apartm ents by introducing electricity, water, and
gas. W hether a p art o f the building funds invested in such renovation would have
improved the housing o f a larger num ber than could be satisfied by only new con
struction was never examined by the SDAP.
56. By 1928 the municipality owned 25% o f the total Viennese land surface, and
by 1933 over 30%. Ibid., II: 438; Baubck, Wohnungspolitik, 14-43; Weihsmann,
Rote Wien, 63, n. 46; Gulick, Austria, I: 457.
57. See Bunzel, W ohnungsmarkt, 128.
58. Seliger, Sozialdemokratie und Kommunalpolitik, 137-38.
59. See Leo Adler, ed., Neuzeitliche Miethuser und Siedlungen (Leipzig, 1931),
with detailed photographs and drawings o f postwar architecture in Berlin and H am
burg as well as in Holland and Sweden. Von Saldern points out that between 1924
and 1930 Germany became the international center of the new architecture style.
It was well received by the Socialist party, which sponsored il in public buildings and
housing in H amburg, Frankfurt, Berlin, Stuttgart, and o th er cities. See Sozialde
mokratie kommunale W ohmmgsbaupolilik," 208-9. For the positive response of

Notes to Pages 56-60

207

the French Popular Front government to functionalist architecture, see Jean-1, ouis
Cohen, Architectures du F ront populaire, Le Mouvement Social 46 (Jan.-March
1989): 4 9 -5 9 .
60. The publication o f an exhibit, Rotes Wien, 1 9 1 9 -1 9 3 4 : Kommunaler Wohnbau
in der Zwischenkiregszeit (Vienna, 1980-84), is accompanied by an excellent slide p ro
gram (available at all Austrian cultural institutes) which highlights the traditional
adherence o f the municipal housing o f red Vienna to the basic Viennese courtyard
construction o f both public and private buildings, as well as illustrating the hodge
podge o f styles in structures and exterior decorations.
61. See Adelheid von Saldern, Die Neubausiedlungen d er Zwanziger Ja h re , in
Ulfert Herlyn, Adelheid von Saldern, Wulf Tessin, eds., Neubausiedlungen der 20er
und 60er Jahre (Frankfurt/M ain, 1987), 39-41.
62. Novy, Wiener Gem eindewohnungsbau, 17-18; Baubck, 145-48. Unlike
m ore sophisticated crafts, it was argued, bricklaying could be learned by the inex
perienced with relative ease.
63. See Barbara M. Lane, Architecture and Politics in Germany, 1 9 1 8 -1 9 4 5 (Cam
bridge, Mass., 1968), 83-1 0 7 .
64. See Ferdinand and Lore Kramer, Sozialer W ohnbau d er Stadt Frankfurt
am Main in den 20er Ja h re n , Ausstellung Kommunaler Wohnbau in Wien (Vienna,
1978). Despite the use o f rationalized materials and methods in Frankfurt and other
Germ an cities, the expected savings in building costs and low rents were not realized,
because mortgage rates were so high. The Viennese public housing was financed
without mortgages.
65. In Frankfurt it took five years to build new housing for 11% o f the popula
tion; in Vienna it took ten years to accommodate somewhat fewer people. See ibid.
66. See von Saldern, Sozialdemokratie kommunale Wohnungsbaupolitik,
198.
67. Lane, Architecture, 103.
68. The ten largest projects, which I have inspected, contained 11,570 apart
ments: Sandleitn Hof, 1,587; Engelshof, 1,467; Karl-Marx-Hof, 1,325; Karl-SeitzHof, 1,273; Mithlingerhof, 1,136; Rabenhof, 1,109; George-Washington-Hof,
1,084; Siedlung Freihof, 1,014; Am Laaer Berg, 846; Wildganshof, 829. These were
located in districts with existing concentrations o f workers: the 3rd, 10th, 12th, 16th,
19th, 20th, and 21st.
69. For the particulars o f municipal buildings as well as individual habitations
and communal facilities, see Czeike, Wirtschaft/Sozialpolitik, 5 9-78 ; Weihsmann,
Rote Wien, 9 2 -3 6 9 (a detailed walking tour through the city, stopping at each munic
ipal project for a detailed discussion); and Hans H autm ann and Rudolf H autm ann,
Die Gemeindebauten des Roten Wien, 1 9 1 9 -1 9 3 4 (Vienna, 1980), passim.
70. See for instance Richard Wagner, Der Klassenkampf um den Menschen (Berlin,
1927); Robert Danneberg, Das neue Wien (Vienna, 1930); Karl Honay, Sozialis
tische Arbeit in d er kapitalistischen Gesellschaft, Der K am pf 5 (1929). See also the
latter-day sympathizers: Gulick, Austria, I: 50 3 -4 ; Austeilung Kommunaler Wohnbau
in Wien (Vienna, 1977).
71. See Reinhard Sieder, Housing Policy, Social Welfare and Family Life in
Red Vienna, 19 19 -1 9 34 , Oral History: Journal o f the Oral History Society 13:2
(1985): 35 -4 8 .
72. See Lane, Architecture, 103-14; von Saldern, Sozialdemokratie und W ohn
ungsbaupolitik, 22230; Das Wohnungswesen der Stadt Frankfurt A.M. (Frankfurt/
Main, 1930). But with the onset o f the depression, the size was reduced to 30 to 50

208

Notes to Pages 60-63

square meters. Even so, rents in German public housing were beyond the means of
the average worker family, because 60-70% o f it was due to high mortgages. Such
apartm ents were within the means o f skilled workers, employees, and functionaries.
See von Saldern, N eubausiedlungen, 3 3 -3 7 , 53.
73. Between 1926 and 1930 ten thousand new apartments in Frankfurt were
equipped with these kitchens. See Margarete Schtte-Lihotzky, VienneFrancfort:
Construction de logements et rationalisation des travaux domestiques, Austriaca:
Cahiers universitaires (informations u r d Autriche 12 (May 1981), 129-38.
74. These are best enum erated and illustrated in H autm ann and Hautm ann,
H ubert Gessner, 1 18-19, and the photographs in idem., Gemeindebauten.
75. H autm ann and Hautm ann, H ubert Gessner, 118, list 33 central laundries
with a total o f 830 workplaces. That allows for 302,950 washdays for 63,000 tenants
o r 4.8 washdays p er tenant per year. Sieder, Housing Policy, 1011, cites
5,032,847 baths taken in municipal bathhouses (other than the three in the projects)
as a sign o f increased cleanliness. But even a conservative estimate o f use works out
to one bath in two weeks per person.
76. For the negative reaction of tenants to the communal facilities, see Dieter
I.angewiesche, Politische O rientierung und soziales Verhalten: Familienleben und
Wohnverhltnisse von Arbeitern im ro te n Wien d e r Ersten Republik, in Lutz Nie
thammer, ed., Wohnen im Wandel: Beitrge zu r Geschichte des Alltags in der brgerlichen
Gesellschaft (Wuppertal, 1979), 183-85.
77. Weihsmann, Rote Wien, 63, n. 61.
78. It was often young couples with one o r two children who were able to leave
the overcrowded quarters o f parents o r in-laws. In general they had waited from four
to eight years before being selected by the housing office. See Sieder, Housing Pol
icy, 6 -9 .
79. See Dr. Ph. Vass, Die Wiener Wohnungswirtschaft von 1917 bis 19 2 7 (Jena,
1928), 38-39 .
80. Das neue Wien: Stdtewerk (Vienna, 1926), I: 235. Those residing in Vienna
since birth received four points. Single persons and couples married less than a year
could not get into the first group o f needy, even if their points totaled ten.
81. The Austrian Communist party (KP) criticized the SDAP and the whole
municipal reform program for having abandoned the weakest portion o f the work
ing class: the unemployed, those on relief, the homeless and evicted. See for instance
KP, Waldhotel: Die Geschichte einer Delogierung im sozialdemokratischen Wien
(Vienna, 1931). The attack was too vehement for the points made, but eviction had
increasingly become a problem after 1929, when the Christian Socials, using implicit
threats of violence, forced the SDAP to agree to a certain weakening o f the rentcontrol law.
82. Nearby shops and Gasthuser were also im portant sites o f spontaneous social
ization. See Jo h n , Im portance o f N eighborhood Relationships, 3 -6.
83. See John, H ausherrenm acht, 108-16, and Anhang: Interview mit H errn
Merinsky O ttokar, 18., Hildebrandgasse 21, am 3.7. 1981 ; Gottfried Pirhofer and
Reinhard Sieder, Zur Konstitution d er Arbeiterfamilie im Roten Wien: Familien
politik, Kulturreform, Alltag und sthetik, in Michael Mitterauer and Reinhard
Sieder, ed., Familienforschung (Vienna, 1982), 351 -57 ; Wegs, Crowning Up Working
Class, 47-5 1.
84. Reinhard Sieder, Working-Class Family Life in Wartime Vienna, in Rich
ard Wall and Jay Winter, eds., The Upheaval of War: Family, Work and Welfare in
Europe, 19 1 4 -I 9 I N (Cambridge, 1988), 126.

Notes to Pages 63-64

209

85. See Gottfried Pirhofer, Ansichten zum Wiener kommunalen Wohnbau der
zwanziger und frhen dreissiger Jahre, in Helmut Fielhauer and O laf Bockhorn,
eds., Die andere Kultur: Volkskunde, Sozialwissenschaften und Arbeiterkultur: Ein
Tagungsbericht (Vienna, 1982), 237-38.
86. Pirhofer and Sieder, Konstitution der Arbeiterfamilie, 354.
87. As we shall see in the discussion o f the family in Ch. 6, every eff ort was made
by the administration o f the municipal houses to wean the workers away from their
fo rm er habits and life-styles: women were told to become active in the party culture
outside the home; local party meetings were removed from the neighborhood Gas
thaus to the project meeting rooms; children were discouraged from both free play
on the project grounds and street play; and various pressures were exerted to p ro
duce new norms o f cleanliness, public behavior, and housekeeping.
88. G ottfried Pirhofer and Reinhard Sieder, Familie und W ohnen im Roten
Wien, in International C onference o f L abour Historians, ITH-Tagungsbericht 16
(Vienna, 1981), 190-91.
89. Pirhofer and Sieder, Arbeiterfamilie, 351-57. The feeling o f pressure
from the building management, complaints about the strict regimentation, and the
desire to escape from the controls o f municipal housing are a constant refrain in
virtually all oral history accounts.
90. T here were complaints in the anarchist press that tenants who protested
about the housing management were threatened with eviction. See Das rote Para
dies in Wien: Ein offener Brief b er sozialdemokratische Auslandslgen, Erkennt
nis und Befreiung: Organ des Herrschaftslosen Sozialismus 1 1:49 (1929): 3.
91. A rare find in the SDAP archives is an exchange of letters between a loyal
SDAP and trade union m em ber and the party executive. The member, Aegidius
P inker, complained that the district party representative had overturned the election
o f tenants representatives twice, because the official candidate had been rejected by
the community tenants. Some twenty members o f the Schutzbund present but out
o f uniform (and not from the district) threatened to break up the meeting. When
Finker and others present expressed outrage at the behavior o f the SDAP represen
tatives, they were threatened with loss o f their jobs and informed that they were p er
manently unqualified for apartm ents in the new municipal housing. Pinker minced
no words in charging the city council with donating 6 0 -7 0 percent o f all municipal
housing to their favorites. The SDAPs reply dismissed Finkers charges by instruct
ing him to make his complaint to the appropriate party organ. It further informed
him that the party was engaged in removing corrupt tenants representatives, a task
in which it would not be hindered. See Aegidius Finker, An den Parteivorstand der
S.D.A.P., Wien, March 14, 1928, and H errn Aegidius Finker, March 22, 1928,
Allgemeines Verwaltungsarchiv Wien (AVA), SD-Parteistellen, Karton 93.
92. The most com mon complaint was about the arbitrary behavior o f SDAP cad
res in acting like a police force in the housing projects, and about their tendency to
monopolize and dom inate tenants meetings, preventing complaints from being
aired. See Prolet im, Gemeindebau: Selbsthilfsorgan der Mieter des Schummeierhofes und
Umgebung, Dec. 1930 and Jan. 1931; Das Alsergrunder Arbeiterblatt, Jan. 1929; Pro
letarierviertel: Huserzeitung der Mieter von Hernals oberhalb der Wattgasse, Oct. 1932;
Der Rote Sandleitner Prolet, Jan. 1933.
93. T here is nothing vaguely socialist about calling for experts to improve the
quality and management o f families and child rearing. I .iheral reform ers and statist
interventionists have made such <.ills for over a century, anil these demands have by
now been largely satisfied. See Christopher I .as h, llaven in a Heartless World: The

2 1 0

Notes to Pages 64-65

Family Besieged, (New York, 1976). In the SDAP, the first o rd er o f experts were the
functionaries themselves. See Kuhlemann, Beispiel Marxismus, 313-24.

94. A celebratory parade initiated by the tenants on the eve o f the official open
ing o f the Karl-Marx-Hof was not perm itted to take place. See Frei, Rotes Wien, 11016.
95. See Langewiesche, Politische O rientierung, 175, where he reports the tri
umphal speech o f a leading Austrian socialist at an SPD meeting in W rzburg in
1933. The speaker clamined that the world-renowned municipal housing had
been paid for with the building tax alone.
96. See von Saldern, Sozialdemokratie kommunale Wohnungspolitik, 19499; F. and L. Kramer, Sozialer W ohnbau F rankfurt ; Weihsmann, Rote Wien, 1 5965; Marc Bonneville, Villeurbanne: naissante et mtamorphose d une banlieue ouvrire
(Lyon, 1978); Jean-Paul Flammand, Loger le peuple: essai sur l histoire du logement
social en France (Paris, 1989), ch. 3; Annie Fourcaut, Bobigny: banlieue rouge (Paris,
1986),ch. 4 ;Jo h n Burnett, A Social History o f Housing, 1 8 1 5 -1 9 8 5 (London, 1986),
2 34 -4 7 ; and Sean Glynn and Jo h n Oxborrow, lnterwar Britain: A Social and Economic
History (London, 1976), ch. 8. The point made here is that these attempts to provide
public housing were not free of problems o f various sorts or necessarily better than
what the SDAP accomplished, but that the Viennese housing program was only one
example o f such social democratic reform efforts.
97. That these massive structures were indeed fortresses created by the socialists
to protect their worker denizens in case o f civil war was a popular charge among
Christian Social critics of the municipal housing program. The fragility o f these
brick-and-mortar buildings, dem onstrated by the destruction inllicted on them even
by the World War I artillery o f Dollfuss in 1934, should have put these allegations
to rest, but they linger on even in the work o f otherwise sound historians. For the
refutation o f the red fortress theory, see G erhard Kapner, Der Wiener kom
munale Wohnbau: Urteilen d er Zwischen- u nd Nachkriegszeit, in Franz
Kadrnoska, ed., Aufbruch und Untergang: sterreichische K ultur zwischen 1918 und
1938 (Vienna, 1981), passim, but especially 149-59.
98. It has been suggested that the municipal housing projects were enclaves on
the citys periphery, leaving the urban power center untouched; that instead o f cre
ating a new ring or proletarian belt o f housing near the city center, the municipal
socialists opted for a defensive position from the outset. See G ottfried Pirhofer and
Michael Tripes, Am Schpfwerk neu Bewohnt: Ungewohntes vom Wiener Gemeindebau
(Vienna, 1981), 2 2 -2 5 , 35 -3 6 . For the danger o f the SDAPs confusing cultural with
political power, see Anton Pelinka, Kommunalpolitik als Gegenmacht: Das rote
Wien als Beispiel gesellschaftsverndernder Reformpolitik, in K.-H. Nassmacher,
Kommunalpolitik und Sozialdemokratie: Der Beitrag des demokratischen Sozialismus zur
kommunalen Selbstverwaltung (Bonn, 1977), 63-77.

9 9 .1
am greatful to Peter Marcuse for having drawn my attention to this gestaltist
perspective. See his article The H ousing Policy o f Social Democracy: Determinants
and Consequences, in Rabinbach, ed., Austrian Experiment, 212-13.
100. See Gottfried Pirhofer, Wirtschaftspolitik, and Politikm K rper, Aus
stellungskatalog Zwischenkriegszeit Wiener Kommunalpolitik, 1 9 1 8 -1 9 3 8 (Vienna,
1980), 21, 65 -6 7 .
101. U nfortunately the one detailed biography Karl Sablik , Julius Tandler:
Mediziner und Sozialreformer: Fine Biography (Vienna, 1983) although generally
informative, lacks any real insight into T andlers social Darwinist and eugenic ori
entation on the population question." Sablik also fails to appreciate the consider

Notes to Pages 65-68

211

able courage with which T andler faced the virulent and rampant anti-Semitism in
the medical faculty and also am ong his Christian Social colleagues on the municipal
council, where he stood his ground against infamous slander without concerted or
decisive support from his own parly.
102. See Czeike, Wirtschafts/Sozialpolitik, 159-65. This remains the best source
on the detailed aspects o f health and welfare programs, their organization, extent,
cost, and accomplishments (153-211). It should be used in conjunction with Patzer,
Streiflichter, which provides both a chronological and subject index o f issues before
the municipal council, for which protocols can be found. Also informative on the
specifics o f health and welfare programs, but not very analytical, is Gulick, Austria,
I: 505-43.
103. Julius Tandler, Gemeinde und Gesundheitswesen, Die Gemeinde: Halbmonatschrift fr sozialdemokratische Kommunalpolitik 8 (1920): 165-69.
104. See Julius Tandler, Wohlttigkeit oder Frsorge? (Vienna, 1925). An excerpt
o f this pam phlet is reprinted in Junius, Sozialismus und persnliche Lebensgestaltung:
Texte aus der Zwischenkriegszeit (Vienna, 1981), 123-25, with a discussion o f socialist
caritas, which was not charity but spontaneous welfare actions not sponsored by the
municipality but by workers for workers at the grass roots and by initiatives from
below (122).
105. See Franz Karner, Aufbau der Wohlfahrtspflege der Stadt Wien (Vienna, 1926).
106. Das neue Wien: Stdtewerk, I: 60 2 -5 . The official rep o rt credits the educa
tion o f m others to breast feeding and rational infant care fo r the sharp decline in
infants deaths.
107. O f some 10,000 first-grade schoolchildren tested for tuberculosis in 192526, 39 percent o f the boys and 31 percent o f the girls were positive. See Wegs, Grow
ing Up Working Class, 19.
108. For the following, see H erm ann H rtm ann, Die Wohlfahrtspflege Wiens
(Jena, 1929), 98100; Speiser, Rote Wien, 49 -5 0 ; and Felix Czeike, Liberale, Christlichsoziale und Sozialdemokratische Kommunalpolitik (18 6 1- 1934): Dargestellt am Bei
spiel der Gemeinde Wien (Vienna, 1962), 99101, 10710.
109. See Philipp Frankowski and Dr. Karl Gottlieb, Die Kindergrten der Gemeinde
Wien (Vienna, 1927), 9, 11, 46-48 .

110. See David Crew, Germ an Socialism, the State and Family Policy, 19181933, Continuity and Change 1:2 (1986).
111. It was a major subject o f discussion at the socialist womens conference p re
ceding the im portant party congress o f 1926, at which the main guidelines o f social
ist policy, including the role o f women and the family, were promulgated. See
Frauenarbeit und Bevlkerungspolitik: Verhandlungen der sozialdemokratischen Frauenreichskonferenz, Oktober 2 9 -3 0 , 9 2 6 in Linz (Vienna, 1926), and Dr. Margarete Hilferding, Geburtenregelung (Vienna, 1926), on the danger o f reproducing the eugen-

ically unfit. The socialists were not alone in their concern about the decline o f the
birth rate and quality o f future generations. These matters preoccupied most
national governments, racists, imperialists, as well as social reform ers o f every stripe.
See Michael Teitelbaum and Jay Winter, Fear o f Population Decline (Orlando, Fla.,
1985). In France, during the interwar period such concerns led to first steps toward
family allowances based on the num ber o f children. See Cicely Watson, Population
Policy in France: Family Allowances and O th er Benefits: 1, Population Studies 7
(1953-54): 263-86.
1 12. See Doris Beyer, Sexualitt Mac lit Wohlfahrt: /eitgemilsse Kriimerungcn an das Role Wien, ' Zeit Geschichte 14:1 1/12 (Aug./Sept 1987): 453. I am

212

Notes to Pages 6 8- 72

grateful to Beyer for drawing my attention to a revealing essay by Julius Tandler,


Die G efahren d e r Minderwertigkeit, in Franz Breunlich, Das Wiener Jugendhilfswerk (Vienna, 1928), 3-6.
113. Julius Tandler, Ehe und Bevlkerungspolitik (Vienna, 1924), 2022.
114. See Sieder, Housing Policy, Social Welfare, 13.
115. Stenographischer Bericht ber die Sitzung des Gemeinderates, December 18,
1928.
1 16. See Dr. Karl Kautsky, Jr., Die E heberatung im Dienste d er Wohlfahrtspllege, Bltter f r das Wohlfahrtswesender Stadt Wien 24 (1925): 26-28. Next toT andler, Kautsky was one o f the most im portant medical authorities in the SDAP,
particularly involved in questions o f sexuality, contraception, and abortion. See
ch. 6.
117. Ibid., p. 26.
118. Sablik, Tandler , 278-80.
119. Beyer, Sexualitt Macht W ohlfahrt, 45 4-55 .
120. The figure is for 1932. See Gulick, Austria, I: 510.
121. See Das neue Wien: Stdtewerk (Vienna, 1928), III: 214.
122. See Pirhofer and Sieder, Konstitution der Arbeiterfamilie, 332: Beyer,
Sexualitt Macht W ohlfahrt, 457; Sablik, Tandler, 283.
123. Ibid., 2 8 4 -8 5 ; Pirhofer and Sieder, Konstitution d er Arbeiterfamilie,
332.
124. See Das neue Wien, III: 215-18.
125. Pirhofer and Sieder, Konstitution der Arbeiterfamilie, 332.
126. By 1927 almost 20,000 children were wards o f the municipality. Sieder,
H ousing Policy, Social Welfare, n. 50.
127. See Czeike, Wirtschafts/Sozialpolitik, 165-71.
128. By 1927 Vienna already had more than 6,000 social workers. See Sablik,
Tandler, 290.
129. Kamilla Heidenreich, a social worker in a youth clinic, wrote: H er work is
the em anation o f the power of love in the world; it is the extension o f m otherhood
and, thus, the domain o f woman. Q u oted in Sieder, Housing Policy, Social Wel
fare, n. 28.
130. See Beyer, Sexualitt Macht W ohlfahrt, 457; Sablik, Tandler, 2 2 4 25.
131. Sieder, Housing Policy, Social Welfare, 15, offers figures for 1925-27.
132. See Der Kaisermhlner Prolet 5 (1932) and 6 (1933), and Dblinger Echo 1
(1929).
133. See Rund um die Friedrich-Kaiser-Gasse 1 (Feb. 1933), and Der rote Beobachter
von M dling 1 (Oct. 1932) and 2 (April 1933).
134. See Pirhofer and Sieder, Konstitution der Arbeiterfamilie, 33 2-3 4, and
Sieder, H ousing Policy, Social Welfare, 16-20. I am enormously indebted to
Sieder and Pirhofer for their exemplary scholarship in the social history o f the First
Republic. Their imaginative use o f oral history and other sources and their subtle
and imaginative interpretations meet the highest international standards.
135. Municipal intervention on health and welfare grounds was directed against
working-class women in particular: as homemakers (cleanliness and neatness), as
rearers o f children, as setters o f the moral tone and, ultimately (see ch. 6) as the em o
tional mainstay o f her husband and children.
136. See Wegs, Growing Up Working ('.lass, 6364.
137. T here was a close relationship between the Public Welfare Office and the

Notes to Pages 72-75


municipal police, which acted as a source o f information and enforcement. See
Beyer, Sexualitt Macht W ohlfahrt, 459.
138. See Wulz, Stadt in Vernderung, 4 1 0 -1 1 , and Sablik, Tandler, 269-74. Ear
lier that year the Municipal Health D epartment had taken over the cemeteries of the
city as communal property.
139. The nu m b er o f cremations rose from 835 in 1923 to about 4,000 yearly by
1933.
140. It was a victory nonetheless. Pirhofer calls the crematorium a symbol o f
red Vienna. . . . It signified the final liberation o f the body from the power o f the
Roman Catholic C hurch. See Politik am K rper, 69.
141. The Viennese socialists were not alone in seeking to transform the worker
family. In Dsseldorf, for instance, an aim o f the welfare policies was to make the
worker family orderly, stable, and disciplined. But nowhere more than in Vienna was
the goal o f socialists so comprehensively linked to a new humanity envisioned in the
em erging working-class culture. See Crew, German Socialism, Family Policy, 7, 9.
142. See Oskar Achs and Eva Tesar, Aspekte sozialistischer Schulpolitik am
Beispiel Tublers und Furtm llers, in Helmut Konrad and Wolfgang Maderthaner,
eds., Neuere Studien zur Arbeitergeschichte (Vienna, 1984), III: 567.
143. Stefan Zweig, Die Well von Gestern: Erinnerungen eines Europers (1942;
Frankfurt/M ain, 1970), 35 -3 6.
144. See Erik Adam, Austromarxismus und Schulreform, Die Schul- und Bil
dungspolitik der sterreichischen Sozialdemokratie in der Ersten Republik (Vienna, 1983),
301. This is an exceptionally well docum ented and analytical study o f educational
reform efforts.
145. Ibid., 278.
146. See Ernst Glaser, Im Umfeld des Austromarxismus: Ein Beitrag zur Geistesges
chichte des sterreichischen Sozialismus (Vienna, 1981), 309 -16 . Glaser points out (305)
that this program was immediately attacked by the church and the Christian Social
party. Their pam phlet Ereimauschelei: Die Ziele der Grruler und Protektoren des Vereins
Freie Schule, was an anti-Semitic diatribe linking Jews and Freemasons allied against
Christianity.
147. See Czeike, Wirtschafts/Sozialpolitik, 271-72.
148. O tto Glcket publicized the program in Das Tor der Zukunft (Vienna, 1917).
149. See Irene W ondratsch, Schulreform und Volksbildung in Wien d er Zwischenkiregszeit, Ausstellungskatalog Kommunalpolitik, 86.
150. See Horst Pfeitfle, O tto Glckels gescheiterte Schulreform: Ein ber
blick, Schulheft 37 (1985): 4. Perhaps the most im portant o f these smaller achieve
ments for working-class youth was moving vocational continuing education for
apprentices from evenings and Sunday mornings to workdays.
151. See Oskar Achs, O tto Glckel Leben u n d Werk, in Oskar Achs, ed.,
Otto Glckel: Ausgewhlte Schriften und Reden (Vienna, 1985), 1013.
152. See O tto Glckel, Drillschule Lemschule Arbeitsschule (Vienna, 1928).
The integrated health, welfare, and education approach also included hot lunches
for the needy in the schools and kindergartens, and the use o f school buildings as
after-school centers where homework, remedial studies, shop work, and play were
offered in the neighborhoods.
153. This was accomplished by creating the publishing house Deutscher Verlag
fr Jugend und Volk, in which the municipality was the principal stockholder. See
Czeike, Wirst hafts/Sozialpolitik, 282.
I 54, See Wolfgang Madei Ih a n d , "Die Schule del Freiheit ( )lto ( >lo< kel und

214

Notes to Pages 75-78

die W iener Schulreform , Archiv: Mitteilungsblatt des Vereins f r Geschichte der Arbei
terbewegung 24:3 (July/Sept. 1984): 6.
155. For a clear Statement o f the original proposal, see O tto Glckel, Die ster
reichische Schulreform: Einige Feststellungen im Kampfe gegen die Schulverderber

(Vienna, 1923), 11.


156. Glckel, Drillschule , passim.
157. Achs, Glckel, 12-13.
158. M aderthaner, Schule d er Freiheit, 9.
159. Ibid., 7 -8 , and especially Glaser, Umfeld, 309-16.
160. See Glckel, sterreichische Schulreform, 18. Glckel kept on the surplus
teachers and used them to reduce average class size to thirty pupils until 1929, and
thereafter to thirty-three. See Czeike, Wirtschafts/Sozialpolitik, 281-82.
161. See Viktor Belohoubek, Die ersten Zehn Jahre der sterreichischen Bundeserziehungsanstalten (Vienna, 1931).
162. See Felix F. Strauss, Schule u n d Heim in d er Bundeserziehungsanstalt
W iener Neustadt im Rahmen der sterreichischen Reformpolitik, Brenner Schriften
(Innsbruck, 1990).
163. See H enrietta Kotlan-Werner, Kunst und Volk: D avid Joseph Bach, 1 8 7 4 194 7 (Vienna, 1977), 174.
164. See Joseph T. Simon, Augenzeuge: Erinnerungen eines sterreichischen Sozial
isten Eine sehr persnliche Zeitgeschichte (Vienna, 1979), 3 1-33 .
165. Glckel, Drillschule, 3. This publication o f 1928 was preceded five years ear
lier by a pam phlet in which he already listed with pride the many foreigners who
came to see the Viennese attem pts at educational reform. But the interwar period
was fertile in educational experiments everywhere and such interest or exchanges
were the rule rather than exceptional. Glckel, sterreichische Schulreform, 51. Every
one o f D annebergs reports on the accomplishments o f the municipality, updated
every year, contained paeans to Viennas educational trailblazing. The socialist press
abounded in similar tributes, extolling Vienna as the Mecca o f innovation and
reform.
166. See for instance Speiser, Rote Wien, 75; Achs, Glckel, 15; Glaser, Umfeld,
3012; Ralph Grossmann and Rudolk Wimmer, Schule und politische Bildung I: Die
historische Entwicklung der politischen B ildung in sterreich (Klagenfurt, 1979), 5 6 123.
167. See R. H. Samuel and R. H. Thomas, Education and Society in M odem Ger
many (London, 1949), chs. 2 - 3 and 7, and Peter Lundgreen, Sozialgeschichte der
deutschen Schule im berblick, Teil II: 1 9 1 8 -1 9 8 0 (Gttingen, 1981).
168. See Jo h n Stevenson, British Society, 1 9 1 4 -1 9 4 5 (Harmondsworth, 1984),
2 50 -5 7 , and W alford Johnson, J o h n Whyman, George Wykes, A Short Economic and
Social History o f Twentieth Century Britain (New York, 1967), 168-76. These experi
ments in progressive education were private undertakings aimed at the middle
class.
169. See Lawrence A. Cremin, The Transformation of the School: Progressivism in
American Education (New York, 1969), ch. 6, and Rush Welter, Popular Education and
Democratic Thought in America (New York, 1962), ch. 18.
170. See Das Linzer Program m d er Sozialdemokratischen Arbeiterpartei
sterreichs, in Albert Kadan and Anton Pelinka, eds., Die Grundsatzprogramme der
sterreichischen Parteien: Dokumentation und Analyse (Vienna, 1979), 86.
171. W ilh e lm W e i n h u p l , P dagogik vom K in de aus: Viktor E a d n is E in Leben f r
d ie Schulreform ( V ie n n a , 1981), I 10.
172. F o r d i e follow ing, se e W o n d t a l s d i , " S c h u l r e f o r m , 9 3 - 9 4 ; P f e id le ,

Notes to Pages 78-81


Glckel gescheiterter Schulreform , 4; Michael Sertl, Vom Mythos zur Wirkli
chkeit: Zwei A nnherungen an die Realitt der zwanziger Ja h re , Schulheft, 26-27.
173. Rumors have circulated ever since that the powerlessness revealed by the
SDAP on July 15, 1927, and especially the dem onstrated inability o f the Schutzbund
to protect either the proletariat o r the republic, was interpreted in Seipels coterie
as die Blutangst d er jdischen Sozialisten. This notion that the Jewish leaders in
the SDAP were afraid o f spilling blood convinced them, so the theory goes, that
street politics with the use o f the Heimwehr would be an effective way of checking,
reducing, and ultimately removing the socialist competition.
174. For the following, see Franz Ronzal, Schule und Kirche (Vienna, 1926), 21 45.
175. The Christian Social partys program for 1926 called for the creation o f
confessional schools throughout the country that would segregate the children on
the basis o f religion. Until such time, the program dem anded the rintroduction o f
religious practices (prayers, Mass, confession, etc.) in all schools. Bishops pastoral
letters were used to coerce parents into supporting the churchs position on edu
cation, and Catholic action groups were organized to dem onstrate opposition to sec
ular reforms.
176. State secondary education at the time was neither free n o r compulsory, but
it was secular. Religious education was left to the parents entirely. O ne day a week
was set aside for children to partake o f such instruction or not. See D. W. Brogan,
The Development of M odem France, 1 8 7 0 -1 9 3 9 (New York, 1966), 154-55. In the
interwar period that special day was frequently used for Scout outings, sports,
music lessons, domestic chores, and visits to the dentist.
177. In Weimar Germany the churches (Catholic and Protestant) succeeded in
holding on to their religious education position in the schools and in the late 1920s
began a rollback o f earlier secular reforms. H ere too the opportunity for a complete
separation o f church and school existed only during the first formative years o f the
republic. See Geoffrey Field, Religion in the German Volksschule, 1 89 0 -19 2 8,
Leo Baeck Institute Year Book, 1980, 4 1 -7 2.
178. See Sertl, Mythos zur Wirklichkeit, 34-35.
179. Apparently Glckel, who invoked Max Adlers Neue Menschen as the
basis for his position, had completely misconstrued Adlers somewhat convoluted
distinction between practical politics (to be banned from the schools) and the politics
inherent in a socialist education.
180. The criticism, by the prom inent socialist psychoanalyst Siegfried Bernfeld,
of the reform ers adherence to a tepid liberal faith in pedagogical neutrality, in place
o f a p ro p er class analysis, was particularly incisive. See Adam, Austromarxismus
u n d Schulreform , 283.
181. See Wegs, Growing Up Working Class, 95-97.
182. In a study o f working-class schoolgirls done by a new-style psychologically
trained teacher, nearly half the girls were kept at home regularly to do household or
child-rearing chores. See Margarete Rada, Das reifende Proletariermdchen (Vienna,
1931), 78.
183. See Friedrich Scheu, Ein Band der Freundschaft: Schiuarzwald-Kreis und
Entstehung der Vereinigung Sozialistischer Mittelschler (Vienna, 1985), 178.

Chapter 4
I.
In r e c e n t ye ars G e r m a n h i s t o r ia n s in p artit niai have b e e n fix ate d o n t h e t h e
o r e ti c a l d i s t in c t io n s a m o n g w o rk in g -c la ss p a r t y c u l t u r e , w o r k e i ev ery da y c u lt u r e ,

216

Notes to Pages 81-82

elite o r dom inant culture, working-class subculture, and worker culture p er se.
Although their often brilliant dem onstrations o f the manipulation o f abstractions
have the quality o f a to u r de force, they do n o t appear to have greatly influenced
empirical work. For the best o f these studies related to our subject, see Adelheid von
Saldern, A rbeiterkulturbew egung in Deutschland in d er Zwischenkriegszeit, in
Friedhelm Boll, ed., Arbeiterkulturen zwischen A lltag und Politik: Beitrge zum euro
pischen Vergleich in der Zwischenkriegszeit (Vienna, 1986); Dieter Langewiesche,
Politik Gessellschaft Kultur: Zur Problematik von Arbeiterkultur und kultu
rellen A rbeiterorganisationen in Deutschland nach dem 1. Weltkrieg, Archiv f r
Sozialgeschichte 22 (1982); idem., A rbeiterkultur in sterreich: Aspekte, T enden
zen u n d T hesen, in G erhard A. Ritter, ed., Arbeiterkultur (Knigstein, 1979);
H elene Maimann, Zum Stellenwert der Arbeiterkultur in sterreich, 1 91 8-19 34 ,
in Internationale Tagung d er Historiker d er Arbeiterbewegung, Arbeiterkultur in
sterreich, 1 9 1 8 -1 9 3 4 (Vienna, 1981); and Gerd Strom, Michael Scholing, and
Armin Frohm ann, A rbeiterkultur zwischen G egenkultur und Integration: Ein Lit
eraturb erich t, Internationale wissenschaftliche Korrespondenz zur Geschichte der
deutschen Arbeiterbewegung 22:3 (Sept. 1986).
The concept Socialist Party culture used here comprises the cultural activities
sponsored and directed by the SDAP on behalf o f the workers. Such activities
involved the workers private sphere and excluded both direct political activity and
life at the workplace. A m ore comprehensive view o f worker cultu re would include
these as well as various worker subcultures. The latter, originating largely in the pre
industrial period, were strongly marked by artisanal forms o f production and related
social structures and, more distantly, by an agrarian, Catholic-dominated milieu. The
notion that a distinct worker culture existed outside the dominant bourgeois cultural
mainstream is clearly rejected.
2. See Dieter Langewiesche, Zur Freizeit des Arbeiters: Bildungsbestrebungen und
Freizeitgestaltung sterreichischer Arbeiter im Kaiserreich und in der Ersten Republik
(Stuttgart, 1979), 3 8 8-8 9 , and Joseph Weidenholzer, A u f dem Weg zum Neuen
Menschen' Bildungs- und Kulturarbeit der sterreichischen Sozialdemokratie in der Ersten
Republik (Vienna, 1981), 9 0 -9 1. Both the aggregate and individual organization
memberships lack precision, because the Jahrbuch der sterreichischen Arbeiterbewe
gung (Vienna, 1926-31) on which they are based provides sketchy and sometimes

dubious data.
3. These are my adjustments from national figures which were 650,000,520,000,
and 260,000 respectively. Weidenholzer, A u f dem Weg, 91, and Langewiesche, Frei
zeit, 388.
4. For criticism o f such bureaucratic tendencies, see Walter Fischer, Der his
torische Materialismus als historische M ethode, and Anni Farchy, Zum Problem
des Parteiapparates, Der K am pf 21 (1928): 18-24, 170-75.
5. See Ferdinand Flossmann, Gegen die Zersplitterung der Krfte, Der Ver
trauensmann 2 :3 /4 (1926): 6.
6. Using capitalist production and the culture industry as examples, Joseph Luit
pold Stern suggested similar rationalization for the partys cultural enterprises.
Rationalisierung der Arbeiterbildung, Bildungsarbeit 15-10 (Oct. 1928): 189-92.
7. Its director from 1918 to 1922 and 1932 to 1934 was the powerful party cul
tural ideologue Joseph Luitpold Stern. From 1922 to 1932 the m ore pragmatic
party functionary Leopold Thaller was in charge. See Weidenholzer, A u f dem Weg,
100- 101 .

Notes to Pages 82-84

217

8. Its director (more appropriately boss) was David Joseph Bach. See H enrietta
Kotlan-Werner, Kunst und Volk: D avid Joseph Rach, 1 8 7 4 -1 9 4 7 (Vienna, 1977), 6 8 69.
9. See O skar Negt and Alexander Kluge, ffentlichkeit und Erfahrung: Zur Organ
isationsanalyse von brgerlicher und proletarischer ffentlichkeit (Frankfurt/M ain,
1972), 375 -7 6.
10. See Viktor Adler, Aufstze, Reden, Briefe (Vienna, 1902), XI: 21-23.
11. Englebert Pernerstorfer, Die Kunst und die A rbeiter, Der Kam pf 1 (1907):
38.
12. The earliest w orker cultural organizations were virtually dominated by bour
geois liberalism. T hat influence extended into the republican period, with liberal
teachers exercising influence over worker cultural organizations. Worker choirs
often un der their direction, for instance, tended to keep perform ance of workingclass songs to a minimum. See Helm ut Konrad, Die Rezeption brgerlicher Kultur
in d er sterreichischen A rbeiterbew egung, in Helmut Fielhauer and O laf Bock
horn, eds., Die andere Kultur: Volkskunde, Sozialwissenschaft und Arbeiterkultur
(Vienna, 1982), 5 1 -6 0.
13. See Kurt W. Rothschild, Bildung, Bildungspolitik und Arbeiterbewegung,
in G erhard Botz, Hans H autm ann, Helm ut Konrad, eds., Geschichte und Gesellchaft
(Vienna, 1973), 3 3 7-43 .
14. O tto B auers own thoughts on the subject are dispersed marginally through
out his work, mainly as the Austromarxist abstraction about raising worker con
sciousness and sensibility (a revolution o f souls) as part o f the revolutionary pro
cess. See ch. 2.
15. For the following, see Max Adler, Neue Menschen: Gedanken ber sozialistische
Erziehung (Berlin, 1924), 29, 5 0 -5 3 , 66 -6 8 , 7 1 -7 3, 109-10.
16. Adler attem pted to clarify his ideas in a lecture delivered in Dresden in 1926,
but all that em erged was a restatement: worker culture must be revolutionary and
aim at a reform o f consciousness. See Ernst Glaser, Im Umfeld des Austromarxismus:
Ein Beitrag zur Geistesgeschichte des sterreichischen Sozialismus (Vienna, 1981), 3 4 3 44.
17. Max Adler, Kulturbedeutung des Sozialismus (Vienna, 1924), 2-3.
18. O tto Neurath, M. Adler, Neue M enschen, Der K am pf 18 (1925): 1 1819.
19. See Klaus-Dieter Mulley, Demokratisierung durch Visualisierung: Z ur Ges
chichte des Gesellschafts- u nd Wirtschaftsmuseums in W ien, in Helm ut Konrad
and Wolfgang M aderthaner, eds., Neuere Studien zur Arbeitergeschichte (Vienna,
1984), III; Alfred Pfoser, Das Glck in der Vernunft: berlegungen zur O tto N eu
raths Kulturtheorie und zur austromarxistischen Lebensform , in Friedrich Stadler,
ed., Arbeiterbildung in der Zwischenkriegszeit: Otto Neurath und Gerd Arntz (Vienna,
1982), 168-72; and Glaser, Umfeld, 58-59.
20. O tto Neurath, Lebensgestaltung und Klassenkampf, Schriftenreihe Neue
M enschen, ed. Max Adler (Berlin, 1928), 5 -8 . His applauding o f the increasing
rationalization and concentration o f capitalism, as advantageous to a future socialist
society, resembled Kautskyan determinism on the one hand, and on the other
approached the C om interns position on fascism and capitalist concentration after
1928. See Gert Schfer, Die Kommunistische Internationale und der Faschismus (Offen
bach, 1973), and T heo Pirker, Komintern und Faschismus: Dokumente zur Geschichte
und Theorie des Faschismus (Stuttgart, 1965).

218

Notes to Pages 84-86

21. O tto Neurath, Bauformen und Klassenkampf, Bildungsarbeit, 13:4 (April


1926): 6 1-64 .
22. O tto Neurath, Proletarische Lebensgestaltung, Der K am pf 21:7 (July
1928): 318-20.
23. Ibid., 2 6 -2 7.
24. See the excellent expos o f how O tto Bauer, Friedrich Adler, and other
prom inent leaders handled a youthful left opposition to the partys attentisme during
the last years o f the republic, forcing it to pull back from a real challenge to party
policy, in Anson Rabinbach, The Crisis o f Austrian Socialism: From Red Vienna to C ivil
War, 1 9 2 7 -1 9 3 4 (Chicago, 1983), chs. 5 -7 .
25. His rep o rt o f cultural work done in the unions stresses how little time and
money was spent by them for such purposes. H e points with pride to fifty-three trade
union newspapers with an edition o f 860,000, as if these were actually read by work
ers who received them free as a part o f union membership. See Richard Wagner,
Unsere freigewerkschaftliche Bildungsarbeit, Bildungsarbeit 13:7/8 (July-Aug.
1926): 113-14.
26. Richard Wagner, G rundfragen proletarischer Bildungsarbeit, Ibid., 10:1
(Jan. 1923): 1-2.
27. Richard Wagner, Arbeiterbildung und Demokratie, Ibid., 18:2 (Feb.
1931): 9 -11 .
28. See Josep h Luitpold Stern, Leben die Bcher bald?, Der Sozialdemokrat:
Monatschrift der Organisation Wien 8 (1925): 56.
29. The ranting against trash and kitsch in the SDAPs publications was exposed
to a devastating critique by Karl Kraus, who accused the party o f hypocrisy in run
ning advertisements for kitsch in Die Arbeiter-Zeitung while attacking it in its editorial
columns. See Alfred Pfabigan, Karl Kraus und der Sozialismus: Eine politische Biogra
phie (Vienna, 1976), 320-21.
30. David Joseph Bach, Programm fr das Ja h r 19 27 /28 , Kunst und Gewerk
schaft 6 (1927): 18. See also Viktor Stein, Betriebsrte, es geht um eine gute
Sache, Kunst und Volk 3 (1928): 8, and Hans Tietze, Demokratie und Kunstfr
d eru n g , Der Kam pf 26 (1933): 303-5.
31. See Josep h Luitpold Stern, Klassenkampf und Massenbildung (Vienna, 1924),
13-14, 29-34.
32. See Alfred Pfoser, Literatur und Austromarxismus (Vienna, 1980), 142.
33. See Alfred Pfoser, Joseph Luitpold Stern und die A rbeiterbchereien, in
Institut fr Wissenschaft und Kunst, Joseph Luitpold Stern (Vienna, 1988), 15-20.
For the idealist-nationalist ideology o f Langbehn, see Fritz Stern, The Politics of Cul
tural Despair: A Study o f the Germanic Ideology (New York, 1965), part II.
34. David Joseph Bach, Kunst und Volk: Eine Festgabe der Kunststelle (Vienna,
1923), 116-17.
35. See Walter Fischer, Aesthetische Dogmatik und proletarische Kunstpoli
tik, Der K am pf 19 (1926): 33 9-44 .
36. See Richard Wagner, Sozialistischer K ulturbund, Bildungsarbeit 13:3
(March 1926): 4 1 -4 3 .
37. See Der Vertrauensmann 8:7 (July 1932): 3.
38. A fter the violence o f July 15, 1927, which put a peaceful democratic evolu
tion in question, a commonly expressed opinion in circles o f the Christian Social
party was that the socialists were prisoners o f a Jdische Blutangst (Jewish fear o f
spilling blood). Stripped o f its vicious anti-Semitism, this judgm ent contained an

Notes to Pages 87-90

219

im portant element o f truth. Until 1934 the SDAP clung to the legal protections of
the republic, which its opponents sought to dismantle by every means.
39. See the very suggestive analysis in Pfoser, Literatur, 113-14.
40. Arbeiter-Zeitung, Dec. 5, 1930, 8.
41. See Pfoser, Joseph Luitpold Stern, 17.
42. See Alois Jalkotzky, Die Parteipresse, Der K am pf 23:10 (Oct. 1930): 406.
43. Freizeit des Arbeiters, 121.
44. Jalkotzky, Parteipresse, 4 0 7-10 .
45. See Peter Kulemann, Am Beispiel des Austromarxismus: Sozialdemokratische
Arbeiterbewegung in sterreich von Hainfeld bis zur Dollfuss-Diktatur (Hamburg, 1979),
22.

46. Stephan Schreder, Der Zeitungsleser: Eine soziologische Studie mit beson
d erer Bercksichtigung der Zeitungsleser Wiens (Ph.D. diss., University o f Basel,
1936), cited in Langewiesche, Freizeit, 123-24.
47. Kulemann, Beispiel, 23.
48. See Alexander Potyka, Das kleine Blatt (19271934): Ideologie und Tages
geschehen fr den kleinen M ann (Ph.D. diss., University o f Vienna, 1983), 1 0 11.
49. Although this was a publication for women by women, the SDAP made Max
W inter the editor-in-chief to supervise the female stall.
50. See Christina Kronaus, Zwischen Avantgarde und Gartenlaube: Literatur
und Politik am Beispiel des Fortsetzungsromans in den sozialdemokratischen
Medien, 1 9 20 -1 93 4 (Ph.D. diss., University o f Vienna, 1985), 190-95.
51. See Kthe Leichter, So leben w ir . . . 1320 Industriearbeiterinnen berichten ber
ihr Leben (Vienna, 1932), 114.
52. Langewiesche, Freizeit, 121.
53. Helene Maimann, ed., Dei ersten 100 fahre: sterreichische Sozialdemokratie,
1 8 8 8 -1 9 8 8 (Vienna, 1988), 351.
54. Leichter, So leben wir, 116.
55. Das geistige Leben d er A rbeiterjugend, Bildungsarbeit 20:9 (Sept. 1933):
172-73. Some respondents obviously listed more than one publication as the total
is m ore than 100%.
56. For the following, see the Schreder study cited in Langewiesche, Freizeit,
124-26.
57. In a broad critique of the partys cultural efforts, Oskar Poliak complained
that editorials and leaders in the party press were too difficult for popular consum p
tion. See W arum haben wir keine Kunstpolitik?, Der K am pf 22:2 (Feb. 1929): 86.
58. Even these figures would have to be reduced by 20%, if only the Vienna m ar
ket was considered.
59. Kulemann, Beispiel, 23-24.
60. Middle-class book clubs, Pfoser observes, probably reached ten times as
many worker readers as socialist ones. The same may be said about serialized fiction
in the large-circulation middle-class tabloids. Pfoser, Literatur, 82-83.
61. See for instance Der Metalarheiter, Der Galanteriearbeiter, and Der Textilarbeiter
for tedious content and style.
62. Langewiesche, Freizeit, 122.
63. See Joseph Zech, Zur Frage des geistigen Leben in unser Partei, Der Kampf
18:12 (Dec! 1925): 47.
64. For the obstacle o f Viennese dialect to various kinds of worker education,

220

Notes to Pages 91-94

see R obert Wegs, Growing Up Working Class: Continuity and Change Among Viennese
Youth, 1 8 9 0 -1 9 3 8 (University Park, Pa., 1989), 90-91.
65. See Weidenholzer, A u f dem Weg, 108-17, and Langewiesche, Freizeit, 2 8 2 85.
66. See Franz Senghofer, Vom Einzelvortrag zur Vortragsreihe, Bildungsarbeit 12:10 (Oct. 1926): 191.
67. See Max Adler, W and lun gd er Arbeiterklasse, Der KampJ 26 (1933): 3 7 9 80.
68. See W eidenholzer, A u f dem Weg, 113-17, and Langewiesche, Freizeit, 285.
69. For the following, see Weidenholzer, A u f dem Weg, 127-53.
70. W orker proportion o f the SDAP membership was 47.49%, but in the Parteischulen it was only 24.7-40.3% ; employees were 11.8% o f membership and
accounted for 30.4-47.5% o f the students; and civil servants were 12.3% of mem
bership and accounted for 2 1 -2 4 .7 o f the students. The preponderance o f employ
ees and civil servants in party schools became greater in the late 1920s and early
1930s. It revealed, am ong oth er things, the close relationship between party lead
ership and the employees o f the socialist municipality. Ibid., 145-46.
71. O n fallacious assumptions regarding the relationship between reading and
informing, reception and perception of print and other media, see Michel de Certeau, The Practice o f Everyday Life, trans. Steven F. Randall (Berkeley, 1984), ch. 12.
72. Jo seph Luitpold Stern, Handbuchfiir Arbeiterbibliothekare (Vienna, 1914).
73. The list o f undesirable writers included the ever-popular masters o f light fic
tion: Karl May, Hedwig Courths-Mahler, Edgar Wallace, and Ludwig Ganghofer.
But even such authors as Joseph Ferch and H ugo Bettauer, close to the socialist
camp, were considered unworthy.
74. For similar campaigns against trash and kitsch and for ennoblem ent in Wei
m ar Germany, see Adelheid von Saldern, The Political Striving for Good Taste
and Good Morals in the Weimar Republic, paper presented at the International
Colloquium on Mass C ulture and the W orking Class, Paris, 1988.
75. Stern, Rationalisierung, 189-90.
76. Stern, Handbuch, 19.
77. Ibid., 9.
78. For the following, see Pfoser, Literatur, 8 8 -9 0, 92, 96, 107, and 109.
79. These were unpaid party cadres who took short training courses offered by
the party to prepare them for their work and assure their understanding o f the Bildungszentrales aims.
80. See Langewiesche, Freizeit, 145-49.
81. Ibid., 160-61, 166.
82. Four-fifths o f Viennese SDAP members in 1929 were workers (blue-collar
workers, employees, housewives, pensioneers). One-fifth or 80,000 members were
from the middle class. Only 58.6% o f those who voted for the SDAP in 1932 were
party members. This meant that 282,885 voters for the SDAP were not affiliated with
it. See Kulemann, Austromarxismus, 3 0 2 -3 , and Alfred G eorg Frei, Rotes Wien (Ber
lin, 1984), 5 9 -6 0. This extension o f the SDAP from its working-class base into the
middle class paralleled developments in o th er socialist parties. For Germany, see Sig
m und Neumann, Die Parteien der Weimarer Republik (Stuttgart, 1965), 3 3 -36 ; for
France, see Georges Lefranc, Les Gauchesen France (Paris, 1965), and Eugen Weber,
Un demi-siecle de glissement a droite, International Review o f Social History 5
(1960).
83. These 32,000 worker subscribers am ounted to 8% o f SDAP membership.

Notes to Pages 95-99

221

84. Langewiesche. Freizeit, 175-77.


85. For the following, see Pfoser, Literatur, 97-100.
86. In 1913 this last category am ounted to 13%. See Langewiesche, Freizeit,
150, 174.
87. See Wolfgang Bass, Die Wissenschaft in den A rbeiterbchereinen, Bil
dungsarbeit 16 (1929).
88. See Meistentlehnte Schriftsteller u nd Werke d er G ruppe Dichtung in Wien,
1932, Bildungsarbeit 20:7 (July 1933): 144. For a very similar choice by female
industrial workers, see Leichter, So leben wir, 117.
89. See Pfoser, Literatur, 138-40.
90. See Sophie Lazersfeld, Vom Fusel zum D ram a, Kunst und Volk 3:1 (Jan.
1928): 6-7 .
91. See O tto Spranger, Zur Intensivisierungder Bildungsarbeit, Der Kam pf 2b
(1932): 176-77.
92. See Joseph Luitpold Stern, In Wien gibt es Bildung, Arbeiter-Zeitung,
March 27, 1932, 7.
93. See Kotlan-Werner, Kunst und Volk, 69.
94. See Pfoser, Literatur, 60, 63.
95. See David Joseph Bach, W arum haben wir keine sozialdemokratische Kunst
politik?, Der K am pf 22:3 (March 1929): 140, and idem., Program fr das Ja h r
1 92 7 /2 8 , Kunst und Volk 2:6 (June 1927): 1-3.
96. See Charles A. Gulick, Austria: From Habsburg to Hitler (Berkeley, Calif.,
1948), I: 668.
97. See David Jo seph Bach, Die Kunststelle der Arbeiterschaft, Arbeiter
zeitung, Oct. 30, 1921, 7, and idem., Zum Beginn, K um t und Volk 1:1 (Feb.
1926): 1.
98. Pfoser, Literatur, 6 1 -6 2 , makes that claim, mentioning Brecht and Weils
Dreigroschenoper, Ernst Tollers Hoppla, w ir leben, Sergei Tretyakovs Brll Chirm, and
the works o f G eorg Kaiser am ong such experiments sponsored by the Kunststelle.
His claim is repeated in the catalog M it uns zieht die neue Zeit (Vienna, 1983), 138,
for the exhibition of working-class culture o f the First Republic in Vienna.
99. See Internationale Tagung der Historiker d er Arbeiterbewegung, Arbeiter
kultur in sterreich, 1 9 1 8 -1 9 3 4 (Vienna, 1981), 141.
100. Cited in Pfoser, Literatur, 63.
101. For the following, see O tto Leichter, W arum haben wir keine sozialde
mokratische Kulturpolitik?, Der K am pf 22:2 (Feb. 1929): 83-86.
102. See David Joseph Bach, Der A rbeiter und die Kunst, Der Kam pf 7:10
(Oct. 1913): 46.
103. Bach, W arum haben wir, 139-48.
104. See W erner Jank, Zur Arbeitermusikbewegung in d er Ersten Republik,
Arbeiterkultur in sterreich, 132.
105. See Reinhard Kannonier, Zwischen Beethoven and Eisler: Zur Arbeitermusik
bewegung in sterreich (Vienna, 1981), 6 4 -6 5.
106. Bach, A rbeiter und Kunst, 41-42.
107. See Langewiesche, A rbeiterkultur in sterreich, 45.
108. These programs did not differ from those o f the famous Vienna Philhar
monic, whose favorites were Beethoven, Brahms, Bruckner, supplemented by Mah
ler, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Schubert, Schuman, Strauss, Tschaikovsky, and Wagner.
Singly, Schnbergs Verklrte N acht was on the program twice in 1930. See
Manfred Wagner, "Zwischen A ufbruch und Schalten, in Franz Kadrnoska, ed.,

222

Notes to Pages 99-103

Aufbruch und Untergang: sterreichische K ultur zwischen 1918 und 1 9 3 8 (Vienna,

1981), 388 -8 9.
109. The decided preference for G erman classics extended to the modernists,
with Mahler, Schnberg, and von W ebern represented but Stravinsky, Debussy, Prokoviev, Poulenc, Janacek, Bartok, and oth er foreign composers rarely perform ed.
110. See Kotlan-Werner, Kunst und Volk, 46.
111. See August Foster, Die T ransportarbeiter im ersten Arbeiter-Symphoniekonzert, Kunst und Volk 3:2 (Oct. 1928): 4 -5 .
112. See Kannonier, Zwischen Beethoven, 3.
113. Spontaneous music making in the tenements singing, dance music, street
musicians, instrum entals on holidays is rep orted in many oral histories o f workers.
See Michael Jo hn , Wohnungsverhltnisse sozialer Unterschichten im Wien Kaiser Franz
Josephs (Vienna, 1984), 199-200, and Wegs, Growing Up Working Class, 49-50.
114. See H enrietta Kotlan-Werner, Otto Felix Kanitz und der Schnbrunner Kreis:
Die Arbeitsgemeinschaft sozialistischer Erzieher, 1 9 2 3 -1 9 3 4 (Vienna, 1982), 302-3.
115. See Kannonier, Zwischen Beethoven, 87-88.
116. See Reinhard Kannonier, Einige Gedanken zum Begriff Arbeitermusik
kultur, in Fielhauer and Bockhorn, eds., Andere Kultur, 46.
117. See Jank, Arbeitermusikbewegung, 128.
118. For the following, see ibid., 129-31.
119. See Kannonier, Zwischen Beethoven, 133.
120. Richard Wagner, D er Klassenkampf im Proletarierheim , Bildungsarbeit
13:7/8 (July-Aug. 1926): 113-15.
121. See A nna Bloch, Zur R undfrage das Bild: Bilder im proletarischen
H eim , ibid., 15:3 (March 1928): 50-51.
122. See Lorenz Popp, Kunst und Proletariat: Bemerkungen b er Erziehung
zum Kunstgenuss in d er bildenden Kunst, ibid., 13:7/8 (July-Aug. 1926): 129-30.
123. For the following, see the excellent Ph.D. dissertation o f Bela Rasky, Die
Fest- u nd Feierkultur d er sozialdemokratischen Bewegung in der Ersten Republik
sterreich 1 9 1 8 -1 9 3 4 (University o f Vienna, 1985), 234-35.
124. See Friedrich Scheuer, Humor als Waffe: Politisches Kabarett in der Ersten
Republik (Vienna, 1977).
125. For a very similar development in Weimar Germany, see von Saldern,
Political and Cultural Striving, passim.
126. See Kannonier, Einige G edanken, 47.
127. See Wolgang M aderthaner, Sport fr das Volk, in Die ersten hundert Jahre,
174.
128. See for instance Robet F. Wheeler, O rganisierter Sport u n d organisierte
Arbeit: Die A rbeitersportbew egung, in Ritter, Arbeiterkultur, 59.
129. See Die ersten Hundert Jahre, 351, for the Viennese figures. The national
total was 240,000 putting Vienna in an atypical minority position regarding organ
izational strength, as com pared to the provinces. For all sports statistics on the
national level, see Reinhard Krammer, Arbeitersport in sterreich: Ein Beitrag zur Ges
chichte der Arbeiterkultur in sterreich (Vienna, 1981), passim and especially 267-68.
It should be kept in mind that the worker sports movement was developing rapidly
in the interwar years, especially in Central Kurope. German worker sports registered
1.5 million members (socialist and communist), and the Czechoslovakian (socialist)
membership stood at 200,000 for the period u n d er consideration. See Wheeler,
O rganisierter S port, 6 3-64 .
130. Krammer, Arbeitersport, 128 -30.

Notes to Pages 103-106

223

131. See Jacques Hannak, Die Vertrustung der Leibesertchtigung, Der


K am pf 13:4 (April 1920): 159.

132. See M aderthaner, S port, 175, and Krammer, Arbeitersport, 118-19.


133. Ibid., 8 2 -8 9 . The soccer players join ed ASKO only in 1926, after Viennas
championship workers' team Rapid-H tteldorf had become professional and left
the fold. See M aderthaner, S port, 175.
134. See Wheeler, O rganisierter S port, 69.
135. See Krammer, Arbeitersport, 73.
136. See Julius Deutsch, Sport und Politik: Im Auftrge der sozialistischen Arbeiter
sports-Internationale (Berlin, 1928), 2325.
137. See Julius Deutsch, Unter roten Fahnen: Vom Rekord zum Massensport (Vienna,
1931), 12.
138. See Jacques Hannak, Die neue Grossmacht Sport: Zum Arbeiter- Turnu nd Sportfest in W ien, Der K am pf 19:7 (July 1926): 273-80.
139. See Hans Gastgeb, Bildung und Sport d er Arbeiterklasse, Bildungsarbeit
14:7/8 (July-Aug. 1927): 121-22. The pseudoreligious admonitions here and
elsewhere as in the case o f Bach, who directed librarians to become moral
confessors o f their readers is a dimension o f SDAP leadership mentality easily
overlooked.
140. S eejac q u es Hannak, Sport und Kunst, Kunst und Volk 2:7 (Oct. 1927):
2 -3 .
141. Cited in Langewiesche, Freizeit, 382.
142. See Deutsch, U n ter roten Fahnen, 6.
143. See Panem et Circenses, Der K am pf 26:1 (Jan. 1926): 38.
144. With the increasing sports reportage in Das kleine Blatt and Kuckuck, the
emphasis on winning and breaking records and the num ber o f spectators other
wise condem ned as dem eaning concerns o f bourgeois sports acquired major
importance. But even the m ore staid A rbeiterzeitung proudly announced on August
27, 1931, that Austria had been the victor in the International W orkers Olympics
in July.
145. See Krammer, Arbeitersport, 159, 177.
146. See Wheeler, O rganisierter S port, 68.
147. An im portant aspect o f the emerging discipline structure was the use o f a
military-derived vocabulary for exercise commands and for describing the role and
activities o f worker athletes. For the parallel development in Weimar Germany, see
P eter Friedemann, Die Krise d er A rbeitersportbew egung am Ende d e r Weimarer
Republik, in Friedhelm Boll, ed., Arbeiterkulturen zwischen A lltag und Politik: Bei
trge zum europischen Vergleich in der Zwischenkriegszeit (Vienna, 1986), 232-40.
148. For the following, see Krammer, Arbeitersport, 122, 125-26, 1 9 2 -2 00 ,2 14 .
Deutsch had championed military preparedness as early as 1924.
149. The depoliticizing o f ASK followed on the heels o f identical measures in
the Schutzbund. Julius Deutsch was the linking figure between the two. See Ilona
Duczynska, Workers in Arms: The Austrian Schutzbund and the C ivil War of 1934 (New
York, 1978).
150. See M aderthaner, S port, 177.
151. Illustrated publications o f the party such as Kuckuck and Das kleine Blatt, as
well as the poster art used from the late 1920s on, prominently featured the body o f
the worker athlete.
15 2. See t h e su g g e stiv e analysis by G e r h a r d H a n k , A r m e e k o r p s a u f d e i n W e g
z u r S o n n e Einig e H e m e i k u n g e t i z u r k u l tu r e l le n S e l h s i d a r s te l li m g d e r A r b e i t e r

224

Notes to Pages 106-109

bewegung, in Dietmar Petzina, ed., Fahnen, Fuste, Krper: Symbolik und K ultur der
Arbeiterbewegung (Essen, 1986), 7986.
153. For the political paralysis o f the SDAP, see Rabinbach, Crisis, ch. 4.
154. See Krammer, Arbeitersport, 22 2 -2 5 , and also Festschrift zur 2. Arbeiterinter
nationale (Vienna, 1931).
155. In response to the request for such a stadium by Deutsch and Tandler,
Mayor Seitz and Finance Councillor Breitner pushed the necessary appropriation
through the municipal council. No doubt the customary socialist reservations about
spectator events were overcome in anticipation o f the symbolic im portance of the
event. See Hans Gastgeb, Vom Wirtshaus zum Stadium: 6 0 Jahre Arbeitersport in ster
reich (Vienna, 1952), 68-70.
156. See Das kleine Blatt, July 27, 1931, 1-2.
157. Q u oted in M it uns zieht die neue Zeit, 96.
158. See Alfred Pfoser, Massensthetik, Massenromantik, Massenspiel: Am
Beispiel sterreichs Richard W agner u n d die Folgen, Das Pult 66 (1982): 64.
159. For this and the following I am much indebted to Rasky, Arbeiterfesttage,
121-22, 131-32.
160. Thus the Sunday feast took the place o f Sunday mass, a spring festival sup
planted Corpus Christi, and winter solstice replaced Christmas. A consecration o f
youth (puberty rite) was established in place o f first com munion and confirmation.
See Wir mssen die Kirchenfeste berw inden, Bildungsarbeit 13:1 (Jan. 1926): 32.
To these were added special labor holidays such as Mayday, a March holiday to com
m em orate the revolution o f 1848, the founding o f the republic on November 12,
and later the com m em oration o f the victims o f July 15, 1927. There were similar
efforts to substitute secular for religious celebrations in France. In the anticlerical
Parisian worker suburb o f Bobigny, red baptisms were celebrated publicly to
counteract attem pts by the Catholic church to rechristianize the community. See
Tyler Stovall, French Communism and Suburban Development: The Rise o f the
Paris Red Belt ," Journal o f Contemporary History 24:3 (July 1989): 447.
161. Rasky, Arbeiterfesttage, 162.
162. See Pfoser, Massensthetik, Pult, 60.
163. For the origins o f politics as an aesthetic-emotional experience in late-nineteenth-century Austria, see Carl E. Schorske, Fin-de-Sicle Vienna: Politics and Culture
(New York, 1981), and WilliamJ. McGrath, Dionysian Art and Populist Politics in Aus
tria (New Haven, Conn., 1974). These origins in Central Europe are traced back
even fu rther by George L. Mosse, Nationalization o f the Masses: Political Symbolism and
Mass Movements in Germany from the Napoleonic Wars Through the Third Reich (New
York, 1975).
164. See for instance Joseph Luitpold Stern, Functionrschulen fr Feiern,
Kunst und Volk 17 (1930): 8-9 .
165. See Pfoser, Massensthetik, Pult. 6 7 -7 0. In H erm ann Bahrs novel ster
reich in Ewigkeit (1929) the suggestion is made that Bolshevik Vienna be aban
doned altogether and that only a Vende can save Austria. Ibid., 70.
166. See for instance Wilhelm Ellenbogen, Richard W agner u nd das Proletar
iat, Der K am pf 7:6 (May 1913): 4 1 -4 3 , and David Joseph Bach, D er A rbeiter und
die Kunst, ibid., 7:10 (Oct. 1913): 4 1-46 .
167. See Richard Lorenz, ed., Proletarische Kulturrevolution in Sowjetrussland
(Munich, 1969), 12-13, 163-71.
168. See Alfred Pfoser, Massensthetik, Massenromantik und Massenspiel,
Arbeiterkultur in sterreich, 126.

Notes to Pages 109- 111

225

169. See Mosse, Nationalization, ch. 7.


170. See Fritz Rosenfeld, Gedanken zum S prechchor, Der Kam pf 19:2 (Feh.
1926): 8 5 -8 6.
171. See Elisa Karau, Was ist Sprechchor?, Bildungsarbeit 13:1 (Jan. 1926): 11.
172. See Wolfgang Schumann, Die Sprechchorbewegung, K u m t und Volk 2:6
(Sept. 1927): 9 -1 1 .
173. See Rasky, Arbeiterfeste, 179-82, and Saure Wochen, Frohe Feste, in Ber
ichte zur Kultur- und Zeitgeschichte (Vienna, 1931/1932), 70-76.
174. This pageant closely resembled one offered at the International Worker
Olympics at Frankfurt in 1924. Devised by Alfred Auerbach and entitled Struggle
for the W orld, it traced the struggle through history between the masses and their
rulers. See James Wickham, Working-Class Movement and Working-Class Life:
Frankfurt am Main during the Weimar Republic, Social History 8:3 (Fall 1983):
338 -3 9 .
175. Das kleine Blatt and Der Kuckuck offered huge photo essays; Die A rbeiterzei
tung (July 19, 1931, 8), rhapsodized about the festivals power to enchant the senses
while inflaming the convictions, worldview, and soul o f the audience. But the sta
dium, as a municipal institution, served oth er purposes, such as almost weekly foot
ball matches. In S eptem ber 1933, Catholic Day was celebrated there with a mass fes
tival in which 8,000 Catholic youth perform ed a religious play before an audience
o f 60,000 which collectively intoned the Te Deum for the closing. See Pfoser, Mas
sensthetik, Arbeiterkultur, 126.
176. See the interpretation and powerful critique o f SDAP festival culture by
R oberto Cazzola, Die proletarischen Feste: Zwischen revolutionrer Propdeutik
u n d sthetischem Ritualismus, Wiener Tagebuch 4 (April 1981): 18-20. While the
workers were toppling the idol, he observes, reactionaries were working to topple
the republic.
177. Pfrimer had announced that he was taking control of Austria in the name
o f the Heimwehr. But the fact that the latter did not support his band o f adventurers
and their foolish theatrics led many SDAP leaders to underestimate the seriousness
o f the incident. See G erhard Botz, Gewalt in der Politik: Attentate, Zusammemtsse,
Unruhen in sterreich 1 9 1 8 bis 1934 (Munich, 1976), 181-86.
178. Cazzola, Proletarische Feste, 20. In his brilliant and prescient essay The
Mass O rn a m e n t, Siegfried K racauer had warned in 1927 that production and
consum ption o f the ornam ental patterns divert from the necessity to change the cur
rent order. Reason is im peded when the masses into which it should penetrate yield
to emotions provided by the godless mythological cult. Its social meaning is much
like that o f the Roman circus games sponsored by tyrants. See New German Critique
5 (Spring 1975): 75.
179. See Fini Samek-Klupp, Festspiele f r grssere Jugendfeier, Sozialistische
Erziehung 10 (1930): 94.
180. For the following, see Rasky, Arbeiterfesttage, 183, 22 5-26 , 384.
181. See Anson Rabinbach, Ernst Fischer and the Left Opposition in Austrian
Social Democracy: The Crisis o f Austrian Socialism, 1 9 27 -1 93 4 (Ph.D. diss., Uni
versity o f Wisconsin, 1973), ch. 3. See also Rasky, Arbeiterfesttage, 22 7 -2 9, and Maderthaner, S p o rt, 177.
182. Like many o th e r aspects o f indigenous worker culture, the traditional
worker feast continued to be practiced at the local level. There, even political cele
brations were forced to include features o f popular entertainm ent. Such feasts con
tinued to resist being turned iulo dem onstrations. Locally, summer feasts and bath

226

Notes to Pages 111-113

ing expeditions were particularly popular am ong youth organizations. See Rasky,
Arbeiterfesttage, 382-83.

183. Pfoser calls it a play ritual o f aesthetic arrangements. See Literatur, 75.
184. It is interesting to note that the three socialist symbols were im ported from
Weimar Germany: the salute from the communist Rot-Frontkmpfer-Bund and the
emblem and greeting from the socialist Eiserne Front. See G ottfried Korff, Rote
Fahnen und geballte Faust: Z ur Symbolik d er Arbeiterbewegung in d er Weimarer
Republik, in Petzina, ed., Fahnen, 3 4 -4 7.
185. Helmut Konrad suggests that these young people were probably closer to
the ideal o f neue Menschen than the athletes o f ASKO. See Foreword, Krammer, Arbeitersport, viii.
186. In Weimar Germany there was a similar popular resistance to an all-encompassing socialist party culture. Beneath the formalization o f the labor movement
culture, Geoff Ely observes, was a popular culture that remained relatively im per
meable to the form ers attractions and rationalizing methods. . . . The distance
between the formal and quotidien cultures was also reproduced inside the labor
movement itself, because the form er neglected whole dimensions o f experience
a broad spectrum o f expectations, anxieties, and hopes, o r the contradictory full
ness o f the working-class lifeworld even o f its own card-carrying m embers. See
L abor History, Social History, Alltagsgeschichte: Experience, Culture, and Politics
o f the Everyday A New Direction for German Social History?, The Journal of Mod
em History 61:2 (June 1989): 3 1 1-1 2 .
187. This was a familiar problem for Socialist parties in the interwar years. The
mercurial rise in membership o f the French SFIO following the strike wave of 1936
could not be accom modated by the existing party structure, and leaders o f the indi
vidual federations were not inclined to find o r support new ways o f reaching the
majority o f uninitiated workers. See H elm ut G ruber, Leon Blum, French Socialism,
and the Popular Front: A Case o f Internal Contradictions (Ithaca, N.Y., 1986), 5 -7 , 1 4 16, 52.
188. Max A dler accused party managers and bureaucrats o f having developed a
mentality o f ownership over their cultural preserves. See W andlung d er A rbeiter
klasse, 3 72 -8 0 . Kthe Leichter warned that the party elite reached by the cultural
program was in danger o f becoming a social elite as well, and complained that the
party had completely neglected the large n um ber o f unemployed. See Bildungsar
beit fr Arbeitslose, Bildungsarbeit 19 (1932): 220.
189. See for instance Felix Kanitz, Individualpsychologie in d er Arbeiterbe
wegung, Bildungsarbeit 14:10 (Oct. 1927); Erwin Wexberg, Alfred Adlers Indi
vidualpsychologie und die sozialistische Erziehung, Die sozialistische Erziehung 4:12
(Dec. 1924); Paul Lazersfeld, Marxismus und Individualpsychologie, ibid., 7:5
(May 1927); Individualpsychologie u n d Sozialismus, ibid., 7:11 (Nov. 1927);
Kotlan-Werner, Kanitz, 189-90; Glaser, Umfeld, 27 3-87 .
190. The SDAP never felt com fortable with the work o f Sigmund Freud, praising
it faintly in its publications while keeping its distance from it. In all likelihood this
was a response to his pessimism about the ability o f social or economic transform a
tion to ameliorate the painful transition from the pleasure to the reality principle
o r to make humans more happy o r fulfilled. The human costs in the avoidance o f
pain were made all too clear in F reu d s Das Unbehagen in der Natur, published in
1930, whose first edition o f 12,000 was sold out that year. See Johannes Reichmayr
and Elisabeth Wiesbauer, "Das Verhltnis von Sozialdemokratie und Psychoanalyse
in sterreich /.wischen 1900 und 19.38, in Wolfgang I lubcr, ed., Beitrge zur Ce-

Notes to Pages 113-115

227

schichte der Psychoanalyse in sterreich (Vienna, 1978), and P eter Gay, Freud: A Life for
Our Time (New York, 1989), 54 3-53 . For the SDAPs attitude toward the work o f

Wilhelm Reich, see ch. 6.


191. It has been suggested that this dismal image o f the worker reflected the
latent fear o f the proletariat by intellectuals. See Hauk, Arm eekorps, 79.
192. See Des Menschen hohe Braut: Arbeit, Freizeit, Arbeitslosigkeit, Franz Kreuzer
in conversation with Marie Jaho da fifty years after the inquiry Die Arbeitslosen von
Marienthal (Vienna, 1983), 7-8.

Chapter 5
1. It is im portant to rem em ber that the party was unable to alfect the workplace,
the one area crucially im portant in establishing both possibilities and limits in the
w orkers public and private sphere. The trade unions virtual impotence in the face
of continuous depressed economic conditions and intransigent owners protected by
the Christian Social national government gave an artificial cast to the entire Viennese
socialist experiment. See G erhard Botz, Streik in sterreich 1918 bis 1975: Prob
leme und Ergenbnisse einer quantitativen Analyse, in G erhard Botz et al., Bewe
gu ng und Klasse: Studien zur sterreichischen Arbeitergeschichte (Vienna, 1978), 8 07 -2 0,
and Dieter Stiefel, Arbeitslosigkeit: Soziale, politische und wirtschaftliche Auswirkung
am Beispiel sterreichs, 1 9 1 8 -1 9 3 8 (Berlin, 1979).
2. For a unique and brilliant analysis o f the emblematic qualities o f mass culture
(first published in the Frankfurter Zeitung in 1927), and the extent to which its surface
manifestations reveal the deep qualities o f an epoch, see Siegfried Kracauer, The
Mass as O rn am en t, trans. Barbara Correll and Jack Zipes, New German Critique 5
(Spring 1975): 6 7-76 .
3. For a sophisticated discussion o f the place and power o f mass culture in m od
ern society, see Michael Denning, The End o f Mass C ulture, and the related cri
tiques o f his position in International Labor and Working-Class History 37 (Spring
1990), as well as D ennings reply in the same jou rn al, 38 (Fall 1990). For the role o f
commercial culture in the creation o f worker traditions, see Eric Hobsbawm, MassProducing Traditions: F.urope, 1870-1914, in Eric Hobsbawm and Terence
Ranger, eds., The Invention o f Tradition (Cambridge, 1983).
4. For worker reaction to commercial culture in the late nineteenth century, see
P eter Bailey, Leisure and Class in Victorian England, 1 8 3 0 -1 8 5 5 (London, 1978), and
Gareth Stedman Jones, Working Class C ulture and Working Class Politics in Lon
don, 18701890, "Journal o f Social History 9 (Summer 1974). For the relationship o f
popular culture to the above, see G areth Jowett, Towards a History o f Popular Cul1
tu r e," Journal o f Popular Culture 9 (1975): 2.
5. O n the relationship o f working-class party cultures, worker subcultures, and
elite culture and the role o f socialist parties in the culture realm, see Stuart Hall,
Notes on Deconstructing the P opular: in Ralph Samuel, ed., Peoples History and
Socialist Theory (London, 1981), and Brigitte Emig, Die Veredelung des Arbeiters:
Sozialdemokratie als Kulturbewegung (Frankfurt/N ew York, 1980). For a m ore theo
retical consideration o f the above, see U m berto Eco, Apokalyptiker und Integrierte:
Zur kirtischen Kirtik der Massenkultur (Frankfurt, 1984).
6. Leading traditional critics from the right and left are united in their overestitnation o f mass cu ltu res rise to dominance. See Jose O rtega y Gasset, The Coining
of the Masses, and Dwiglil Macdonald, "A Theory o f Mass C ulture, in Bernard

228

Notes to Pages 115-118

Rosenberg and David M. White, eds., Mass Culture: The Popular Arts in America (New
York, 1957). In their desire to condem n mass culture, they overlook the struggle it
had to wage against older commercial and noncommercial forms o f leisure-time
activities, and the length o f time d uring which the latter were able to adapt and
defend themselves.
7. Even the socialist municipal administration reduced the workweek in public
utilities from 5 2 -5 4 to 48 hours only in 1927. See Peter Kulemann, Am Beispiel des
Austromarxismus (Hamburg, 1979), 346. But the average reduction o f the workweek
from over 60 hours before 1914 to u n d er 50 hours m eant a gain o f 10 hours of free
time a week for the worker.
8. See the superior Ph.D. dissertation by Ulrike Weber, Wirtschaftspolitische
Strategien der Freien Gewerkschaften in der Ersten Republik: Der Kampf gegen die
Arbeitslosigkeit, (University of Vienna, 1986), 178-90.
9. See H ans Safrian, Wir ham die Zeit d er Orbeitslosigkeit schon richtig gen
ossen auch: Ein Versuch zur (Uber-)Lebensweise von Arbeitslosen in Wien zur Zeit
d er Weltwirtschaftskrise um 1930, in G erhard Botz and Josef Weidenholzer, eds.,
M aterialien zur Historischen Sozialwissenschaft: Mndliche Geschichte und Arbeiterbewe
gung (Vienna, 1984).

10. T he following account o f commercial culture and the Viennese working class
is based on three ground-breaking articles by Joseph Ehmer: Vienna, anni settanta:
osterie, stru ttu ra della classe operaia e cultura politica del movimento, Movimento
Operaio et Socialista 8:1 (1985); Vaterlandslose Gesellen und respektable Familien
vter: Entwicklungsformen der Arbeiterfamilie im internationalen Vergleich, 1850
1930, in Helm ut Konrad, ed., Die deutsche und die sterreichische Arbeiterbewegung
sur Zeit der Zweiten Internationale (Vienna, 1982); and Rote Fahnen blauer Mon
tag: Soziale Bedingungen von Aktions- und O rganisationsform ender frhen Wiener
A rbeiterbewegung, D. Puls and E. P. Thom pson, eds., Wahrnemungsformen und Pro
testverhalten (Frankfurt, 1979).
11. Whereas men ate m ore substantial meals in the Gasthaus and remained there
for the duration o f their lunch hour, making it their social domain, women con
sumed a generally meager lunch o f leftovers at the workplace, which also served as
the setting o f their social networks. See Kthe Leichter, So leben w ir . . . 1320 Indus
triearbeiterinnen berichten ber ihr Leben (Vienna, 1932), 80.
12. In its multiple functions the Gasthaus was analogous to the Fnglish pub and
French caf, as a central locale o f working-class sociability.
13. See Alfred Frei, Rotes Vienna: Austromarxismus und Arbeiterkultur (Berlin,
1984), 108-15.
14. Vienna, anni settanta, 2 1-22 .
15. Handbuch der Gemeinde Wien (Vienna, 1935), 122.
16. See for instance Emanuel Haussier, H eurigendm m erung?, Neues Wiener
Tageblatt, Sept. 25, 1932.
17. For the following, see Hans Pem m er and Nini Lackner, Der Prater: Von den
Anfngen bis zur Gegenwrt (Vienna, 1974), and B ertrand M. Buchmann, Der Prater:
Die Geschichte des unteren Werd (Vienna, 1979).
18. See Benedikt Kautsky, Die Haushaltstatistik der Wiener Arbeiterkammer, 1 9 2 5 1934, supplem ent o f International Review o f Social History 2 (1935): 24 5 -4 6 , and Fritz
Klenner, Die sterreichischen Gewerkschaften (Vienna, 1953), II: 892-94.
19. N one o f the various official statistical yearbooks yields information about the
unit cost o f commercial culture products. N or do the sparse records o f trade unions
o r prop rieto r associations in the food o r alcohol trades shed any light on the sub

Notes to Pages 118-121

22 !)

ject.O ne is thrown back on the vague memories o f the aged for an approximation of
prices o f common consum er articles and services: 10 cigarettes cost 30 ( Iroschen; a
glass o f beer, 10-20 Groschen; a sausage, 20 Groschen; an ice cream cone, 30 G ro
schen; circus and variety admission, 50 Groschen to 5 Schillings. The price structure
between 1925 and 1933 rem ained fairly stable, although family wages declined after
1930 owing to massive unem ployment and wage cuts.
20. For the following, see Berthold Lang, Zirkus und Kabarett, in Fran/
Kadrnoska, ed., Aujbruch und Untergang: sterreichische Kultur zwischen 1918 und
1938 (Vienna, 1981); sterreichisches Circus- und Clown-Museum, Circus und Var
iet in Wien 1918 bis 1938 (Vienna, 1980); idem., Der sterreichische Circus (Vienna,
1978); idem., Unterhaltungskunst in Wien um 1900 (Vienna, 1979); Rudolf Weys,
Cabaret urul Kabarett in Wien (Vienna, 1970); Ernst G nther, Geschichte des Variets
(Berlin, 1978); and Felix Czeike, Das grosse Groner Wien Lexikon (Vienna, 1974). 1 am
also indebted to Mr. Berthold Lang, director of the sterreichisches Circus- und
Clown-Museum, for allowing me to sample the m useum s vast collection of circus
and Variet posters and memorabilia, and for inform ation not available in print.
21. Lang, Zirkus, 305, 3 07 -8 .
22. Der Kuckuck 2:20 (May 18, 1930): 8; Der sterreichische Circus, 14.
23. Pem m er and Lackner, Prater, 95.
24. Circus und Variet in Wien, 5 -6 .
25. Circuses were generally limited to five warm-weather months and perform ed
on weekends, when four o r five perform ances were given.
26. Some o f the most famous perm anent prew ar circus structures, such as the
Busch, were converted into movie theaters as early as 1920. See Lang, Zirkus, 309;
Circus Gestern und Heute: Mitteilungsblatt der Gesellschaft der Freunde des sterrei
chischen Circusmuseums 3 (March/April 1982): 9.
27. G nthers, Geschichte Variets, introduction.

28. Virtually all the great waltz conductors, including the scions of the Strauss
family, made a point o f taking the baton o f Variet orchestras. T he same was true for
composers o f operettas, such as R obert Stoltz and Ralph Benatzky.
29. Circus und Variet in Wien, 7. Variet made a great effort to advertise. Bor
rowing the techniques o f the American circus impresario P. T. Barnum, it developed
the sensational poster to a fine art and displayed it widely throughout the city.
30. Lang, Zirkus, 308; Cirkus und Variet in Wien, 9.
31. Circus urul Variet in Wien, 9 -1 0 ; Lang, Zirkus, 30 8-9.
32. Circus und Variet in Wien, 7 -1 0; Unterhaltungskunst Wien, 5, 7.
33. These included Variet Westend, M argaretner O rpheum , Brigittinauer
O rpheum , Favoritner Kolosseum, Tivoli Variet, Steiners Knstlerspiele, Rosen
sle, and Metropol-Variet. See Lang, 309; Unterhaltungskunst Wien, 18.
34. Lang, Zirkus, 303.
35. See Fritz Klingenbeck, Unsterblicher Walzer (Vienna, 1943), and Robert
Wegs, Growing Up Working Class: Continuity and Change Among Viennese Youth, 1 8 9 0 1938 (University Park, Pa., 1989), 119.
36. See Hans Safrian and Reinhard Sieder, Gassenkinder, Strassenkmpfer:
Zur politischen Sozialisation einer A rbeitergeneration in Wien 1900 bis 1938, in
Lutz N ietham m er and Alexander von Plato, eds., Wir kriegen jetzt andere Zeiten (Ber
lin, 1985); Reinhard Sieder, Vater, d e rf i aufstehn?: Kindheitserfahrungen in
W iener Arbeiterfamilien um 1900, in H ubert Ch. Ehalt, G ernot Heiss, and Hannes
Stakl, eds., Glcklich ist wer vergisst. . . das andere Wien um 1900 (Vienna, 1986); and
Wegs, Grinning Up Working ('.lass, 6 8 -7 3 , I 19-20.

230

Notes to Pages 121-124

37. Such play am ong boys sometimes became rough, almost ganglike struggles
over territory. See Karl Klein, Mit der Hollergasse gegen die Anschtzgasse, in
Heinz Blaumeiser et al., Ottakringer Lesebuch: Lebensgeschichten (Vienna, 1988), 4 4 45. Working-class children in Weimar Germany also regarded the Street as their
h om e a territory that was liberating and gave free reign to a variety o f uses and
self-expression. See Detlev J. K. P eukert , Jugend zwischen Krieg und Krise: Lebenswel
ten von Arbeiterjungen in der Weimarer Republik (Cologne, 1987), 7782.
38. Although the worker weekend began at noon on Saturday, married women
workers were engaged in catch-up household chores until Sunday afternoon, when
diey too were at leisure. Single female workers m ore often had more time for hiking
and o ther recreational activities. But for both, a trip into nature was a preferred
form o f release from the strains o f the workweek. See Leichter, So leben w ir , conclu
sion and appendix o f case histories. A similar near reverence for nature (comparing
it to liberation from the prison o f factory life) can be found in a study o f German
female textile workers. See D eutscher Textilarbeiterverband, Mein Arbeitstag Mein
Wochenende: 150 Berichte von Textilarbeiterinned (Berlin, 1930), passim.
39. The noncommercial recreation o f hiking and rambling was never quite out
o f touch with commercial culture. The satisfied but weary w anderer found ample
opportunity to refresh himself at various Gasthuser and Heurigen which lay not far
from his chosen path. For an analysis o f the significance of nature for workers in
Weimar Germany, see Kaspar Maase, Leben einzeln und frei wie ein Baum und brder
lich wie ein Wald: Wandel der Arbeiterkultur und Zukunft der Lebensweise (Cologne,
1987), 5 5 -5 6 .
40. T he municipal Kongressbad, o pened in 1928, drew 448,555 paying bathers
in the 1930 season. See H ans Hovorka, Republik K o n g e Ein Schwimmbad erzhlt
seine Geschichte (Vienna, 1988), 71.
41. Nude swimming, however, was forbidden by a law which was sometimes
enforced. It took place, nevertheless, on several small islands in the Danube not eas
ily accessible to the police. Lobau bathing received much coverage in the popular
socialist press, particularly the illustrated Kuckuck, which had a penchant for nudity
o r seminudity. See the full-page spread on August 21, 1932, for instance.
42. See Fritz Keller, ed., Lobau-die Nackerten von Wien (Vienna, 1985), and Safrian, Wir ham die Zeit der Orbeitslosigkeit.
43. See Reinhard Krammer, Arbeitersport in sterreich (Vienna, 1981), vii-viii.
Although K ram m ers work is devoted to recounting the history o f the SDAPs sport
organization (ASK), both in the introduction and conclusion the continued im por
tance o f unorganized and spontaneous sports is emphasized.
44. For a parallel situation in Weimar Germany, see Peukert, Jugend, 232-33.
45. Handbuch der Gemeinde Wien (Vienna, 1932). Official statistics o f such legal
garden plots did not include thousands o f others created on waste land proximate
to the city limits which were unauthorized but nonetheless tolerated. In 1918 there
had been about 150,000 o f these suburban plots o f 100-300 square meters. See
Hans H autm ann, H un ger ist ein schlechter Koch: Die Ernhrungslage der ster
reichischen A rbeiter im Ersten Weltkrieg, Botz, ed., Bewegung und Klasse, 670. For
a photo essay o f the garden plots as well as the laws governing their rental, see Nach
der Arbeit: Bilder und Texte zur Freizeit, 18 7 0 - 1 9 5 0 (Vienna, 1987), 7 -1 1 , 42-43.
46. Ironically, the galloping unem ployment o f the depression years created an
even larger am ount o f worker leisure, which the mass culture industries were able
lo exploit despite widespread impoverishment.
47. See the irony bordering on contempt o f the trade union educator Richard

Notes to Pages 124-126

231

Wagner, Klassenkampf im Proletarierheim , Bildungsarbeit: Bltter f r sozialistisches


Bildungswesen 13: 7 - 8 (1926).
48. See Edm und Reismann, Brgerliche und proletarische Vergngungen,
Sozialistische Erziehung (Die Praxis) 8:10 (Oct 1929): 227-28.
49. M. Feldm an, Brgerliche und proletarische V ergngungen, ibid., 8:11
(Nov. 1929): 247-48.
50. G erta M orberger, Brgerliche und proletarische Vergngungen, ibid.,
8:12 (Dec. 1929): 274.
51. Trtzmller, Wir u n d das T anzen, ibid., 9:1 (Jan. 1930): 22-23.
52. M oderner Tanz und Massenorganisation, ibid., 9:2 (Feb. 1930): 42.
53. Karl Czernetz, Tanzen?, ibid., 9:3 (March 1930): 68-69.
54. What the SDAP leaders failed to recognize was that their repeatedly invoked
need for abstinence from pleasure kept working-class youth from joining the SAJ.
Its Viennese m embership in 1932 was 10,490, o r 2.6 percent o f the SDAP total. But
the cohort o f 18- to 20-year-olds in the population alone constituted 3.07 percent,
whereas the SAJ recruited from 14- to 21 -year-olds. See Kthe Leichter, Die Struk
tu r der W iener Sozialdemokratie, Der Kam pf 25:6 (June 1931): 26 2-67 , and Wolf
gang N eugebauer, Bauvolk der kommenden Welt: Geschichte der sozialistischen Jugend
bewegung in sterreich (Vienna, 1975), 138-40.
55. For the SDAPs Adlerianism, see Ernst Glaser, Im Umfeld des Austromarxismus:
Ein Beitrag zu r Geistesgeschichte des sterreichischen Sozialismus (Vienna, 1981), 2 7 3 87. For the relationship between psychoanalysis and the SDAP, see Elizabeth Wiesbauer and Johannes Reichmayr, Das Verhltnis d er Psychoanalyse zu der Sozial
dem okratie, in Wolfgang H u ber and Erika Weinzierl, eds., Beitrge zur Geschichte
der Psychoanalyse in sterreich (Vienna, 1978); Michael Pollak, Intellektuelle Aussenseiterstellung und Arbeiterbewegung: Das Verhltnis d er Psychoanalyse zur
Sozialdemokratie zu Beginn des Ja h rh u n d e rts, in Botz, ed., Bewegung und Klasse;
and Karl Fallend, Psychoanalyse und Politik im Wien d er zwanziger Jahre: Wilhelm
Reich Dozent der Psychoanalyse, Sexualberater und rebellischer Parteigenosse
(Ph.D. diss., University o f Salzburg 1987).
56. For the history o f Austrian film, see Walter Fritz, Kino in sterreich, 1 8 9 6 1930 (Vienna, 1981); idem., Glanz und Elend des Spielfilms in der Ersten Repub
lik, Der sterreichische Film in der Ersten Republik (Vienna, 1968); Franz Grafl,
Hinein in die Kinos!: FMn Beitrag zur A ufarbeitung der sterreichischen Arbeiterfilmbewegung, 19181934, in Kadrnoska, ed., Auflruch; and Ernst Glaser, Die
Stummfilmkritik u n ter besonderer Bercksichtigung des Sowjetfilms, typescript.
Allgemeines Verwaltungsarchiv des sterreichischen Staatsarchiv. For the most ana
lytic treatm ent, see the unpublished m anuscript o f T heodor Venus, Hinein in das
Kino!: Sozialdemokratische Film- u nd Kinopolitik von 1918 bis 1934, In ster
reichische Gesellschaft fr Kulturpolitik, A rbeiterkultur in sterreich, 1918
1934: E ndbericht (available at the Verein fr die Geschichte der Arbeiterbewegung
in Vienna).
57. Fritz Rosenfeld, Der W iener Film von Gestern und M orgen, Arbeiter-Zeitung, Feb. 11, 1932.
58. Stabilization o f the currency put an end to the capitalization o f film produc
tion based on the repayment o f loans with a constantly inflated currency.
59. A total o f 59 Austrian sound films were produced between 1929 and 1934.
See Walter Fritz, Die sterreichischen Spielfilme der Tonfilmzeit (1 9 2 9 -1 9 3 8 ) (Vienna,
1968), 159. O f the 484 foreign films im ported in 1928, for instance, 240 were p ro
duced in Ilie United States, 2 10 in ( iermany, 14 in Franco, and a few in England, the

232

Notes to Pages 126-128

U.S.S.R., and o th er countries. See sterreichs Filmproduktion, Neues "Wiener


Tageblatt, November 10, 1928, and Glaser, Stummfilmkritik, 3 -4 . The introduc
tion o f sound film increased the num ber and ratio o f American imports. For the
p rofound impact o f American film on European cinema, see Victoria deGrazia,
The American Challenge to European Cinemas, 1920-1960, "Journal of Modem
History 61 (March 1989).
60. A fter the restructuring o f the G erman and British industries, huge conglom
erates such as Universal Film (UFA) and the Korda (London Films) and Balcon (Gaumont British) organizations became dominant. In France the collapse o f Path and
G aum ont left a vacuum filled by dozens o f small companies, often producing only
one or two films, centered arou nd particular internationally acclaimed directors. For
French and G erman film, see Paul Monaco, Cinema and Society: France and Germany
during the Twenties (New York, 1973); Museum o f M odern Art, Fifty Years o f French
Film (New York, 1985); Paul Leglise, Histoire de la politique du cinma franais: le cin
ma et la IIT Rpublique (Paris, 1970); Siegfried Kracauer, From Caligari to Hitler: A
Psychological Study of the German Film (New York, 1956); Thomas G. Plummer et al.,
Film and Politics in the Weimar Republic (New York, 1982); and Anton Kaes, KinoDebatte (Munich, 1978). For Britain, see Charles Barr, ed., A ll Our Yesterdays: 90
Years of British Cinema (London, 1986), and James C urran and Vincent Porter, eds.,
British Cinema History (Totowa, N.J., 1983).
61. In France neither the SFIO n or the Confdration Gnrale du Travail
(CGT) had a comprehensive cultural program. Yet it was the CGT which in 1938
commissioned Jean Renoir and the cinema collective G roupe O ctobre to make La
Marseillaise, a magnificent tableau calling for the defense of the republic against
its internal and external enemies. More than 60% o f the financing came from 2-franc
subscriptions by the trade union rank and file. See Pascal Ory, De Cin-Libert
La Marseillaise, espoirs et limites d un cinma libr (19361938), Le Mouvement
Social 91 (April 1975), and Jo n ath an Buchsbaum, Cinema Engag: Film in the Popular
Front (Urbana, 111., 1988), 250, 2 61 -6 2 , 269-70.
62. In Weimar Germany, where independent film production was at the mercy
o f UFA, the Socialist party produced Die Schmiede (1924), Freies Volk (1926), Brder
(1929), and Lohnbuchhalter Kremke (1930). The Communist party produced Mutter
Krausens fahrt ins Glck (1929) and Kuhle Wampe oder Wem gehrt die Welt? (1932).
See H elm ut Krte, ed., Film und Realitt in der Weimarer Republik (Frankfurt/M ain,
1980), and Bruce Murray, Film and the German Left in the Weimar Republic: From Cal
igari to Kuhle Wampe (Austin, Tex., 1990). But even the commercially well-organized
communist Promethius-Film company went into receivership during the filming of
Kuhle Wampe. All these films had a good box office in Vienna and received very favor
able reviews ( the kind o f films the working class needs ) in the socialist press. Yet
the reviewers rarely asked why such films were not being produced at home.
63. Glaser, Stummfilmkritik, 2, mentions 150 theaters in 1915. The absence of
any official statistics makes that num ber doubtful, but even so, given the small seating
capacity o f most theaters, film had not yet become a mass medium.
64. See Zahlen um Film und Kino, Bildungsarbeit 15:1 (jan. 1928): 35; Sta
tistik der Kinos in sterreich, sterreichische Film-Zeitung, January 15, 1927;
Filmkunst: Zeitschrift f r Filmkultur und Filmwissenschaft 107 (Oct. 1985): 8-10.
65. See sterreichische Film-Zeitung, January 15, 1927, 14, and O ctober 28,
1928, 2.
66. In 1928 there were 423,383 trade union members in Vienna. See Statistisches
Handbuch fr die Republik stereich, 1931 (Vienna, 1933). In the municipal election

Notes to Pages 128-129

233

o f 1927 the SDAP received 694,557 votes, o r 60.3% o f the total. SDAP membership
in the following year was 41 7,347. See Alfred Frei, Rotes Wien, 5 8-59 . According to
the SDAP Executive, the social composition o f the party included 54.51% workers,
19.76% employees and managers, and 15.96% housewives. See Kulemann, Beispiel,
3 01 -3 . If we consider that in the second group at least 50% were white-collar work
ers and that a majority o f the housewives were working class, then three-quarters of
the SDAP membership were workers. In view o f the potential num ber o f worker
filmgoers, the above estimates are on the low side.
67. Among workers in Chicago, moviegoing had become a habit by the 1920s.
See Lizabeth Cohen, M aking a New Deal: Industrial Workers in Chicago, 1 9 1 9 -1 9 3 9
(New York, 1990), 12020. For a similar treatm ent o f German workers, see W. L.
Guttsman, Workers Culture in Weimar Germany: Between Tradition and Commitment
(New York, 1990), 263-74.
68. For the following, see Rudolf Lassner, Theater- und Kinobesuch: Fine psy
chologische Analyse (Ph.D. diss., University o f Vienna, 1936), especially v, 1-2, 49,
5 6 -6 2 , 9 2 -1 16 . The study includes 356 persons o f both sexes, and all ages begin
ning at 15. 270 responded to a questionnaire; 66 were interviewed. 25% o f the sam
ple was from the working class and was categorized as such in the analysis. For similar
findings am ong youthful cinema audiences in Weimar Germany, see Alois Funk,
Film und Jugend: Eine Untersuchung ber die psychischen Wirkungen des Films im Leben
der Jugendlichen (Munich, 1934), and Yeukevl, Jugend, 218-20.

69. See Ludwig Gesek, Wann, wie oft u n d u n te r welchen Bedingungen geht die
Ju gen d in sterreich ins Kino: Teilbericht ber die Erhebung Jug end und Film
(unpublished manuscript, 1933, in possession o f Dr. Ludwig Gesek, Vienna), 1-61.
O f 13,603 questionnaires sent out to schools and youth organizations throughout
Austria, 10,054 were retu rn ed and analyzed. 25% of the respondents were from
Vienna; the largest group (38.3%) were children of workers. Two further* parts of
the study, on childrens perceptions o f film content and the role o f the film in the
intellectual life o f children, were never carried out.
70. N or was it for their parents. Given their cold dwellings in wintertime, it is
small w onder that the unem ployed found refuge in movie theaters where, for a small
price, hours o f warmth could be enjoyed. This situation also prevailed in England
and Weimar Germany. See Peukert, Jugend, 184-88; George Orwell, The Road to
Wigan Pier (New York, 1958), 8 0 -8 1 ; and Jo h n Stevenson, British Society, 1 9 1 4 -4 5
(London, 1984), 396.
71. The argum ent was most cogently made by H ortense Powdermaker, Holly
wood, the Dream Factory: An Anthropologist Looks at the Movie-Makers (New York, 1951),
introduction. When the lights go out, she observes, critical faculties go out as well.
The effect o f the darkened theater is no doubt powerful, but are not other faculties
stimulated by it as well: empathy, projection, assimilation? Ilya E hrenburgs critique
was an exercise in vulgar economic determinism to dem onstrate that cinema was the
powerful tool o f leading industrialists. See Die Traumfabrik (Berlin, 1931). An even
earlier version by the Austrian culture critic Richard G uttm ann, Die Kinomenschheit:
Versuch einer prinzipiellen Analyse (Vienna, 1916), charged that film educates the eye
to see imprecisely.
72. The distinguished film critic and theorist Bela Balazs was the only one on the
Viennese cultural scene to appreciate the unique visual power o f film. In its expres
sive use of gestures he saw the em ergence o f the first international language and the
beginnings of a new visual culture. See Der sichtbare Mensch oder die Kultur des Films
(Vienna, 1924). Balazs wrote film reviews for Der la g from 1922 to 1925, when he

234

Notes to Pages 129-132

left for Berlin as part of the cineast migration at the time. No film critic o f com pa
rable quality, with an understanding of film as a medium o f mass culture, appeared
in Vienna in the next decade. For his film criticism in Vienna, see Joseph Zsuff'a, Bla
Balazs: The Man and the Artist (Berkeley, Calif., 1987), 129-36.
73. The following is based on an analysis o f Paimanns Filmlisten: Wochenschrift f r
Lichtbild-Kritik, 1924-32, an independent weekly listing current films with summa
ries; the trade publications Der Filmbote: Zeitschrift f r alle Zweige der Kinematographie,
1925-27, sterreichische Film-Zeitung, 1927-29, and Wiener Kino, 1924; and the
popular socialist daily Das kleine Blatt, 192933.
74. The roster o f m ajor directors included (to name but a few): G. W. Pabst,
Jo seph Sternberg, Ren Clair, Jean Renoir, Julien Duvivier, Marcel Pagnol, William
Wellman, G. W. Griffith, Charles Chaplin, Michael Curtiz, Sergei Eisenstein, V. I.
Pudovkin, and Jacques Feyder. The complaint in other countries about the lack of
good films and the prevalence o f kitsch seems also to have been the same. See Kracauer, Caligari, passim; Genevive Guillaume-Grimaud, Le Cinma du Front Popu
laire (Paris, 1986), 197; Tony Algate, Comedy, Class and Containment: T he British
Domestic Cinema in the 1930s, in Curran and Porter, eds., British Cinema, 259ff;
and Roger Dooley, From Scarface to Scarlett: American Films in the 1930s (New York,
1979), index o f films.
75. See Jo h a n n Hirsch, Kino u n d Massenbewusstsein: Die erfolgreichsten
Filme, 19 3 0 /3 1 , Bildungsarbeit 18:7-8 (July-Aug. 1931): 8 2 -8 4.
76. See Jo h n Willett, Art and Politics in the Weimar Period: The New Sobriety, 1 9 1 7 1933 (New York, 1978), chs. 11, 15.
77. See Fritz, Kino, 138; Fritz, Glanz, 3.
78. See Allerweltsverdummungstrust and Vorstadtkino, Arbeiter-Zeitung,
N ovember 26, 1919, and January 18, 1920; David J. Bach, Das Kino des Proletar
iats, ibid., O ctober 1, 1922.
79. F or the following, see Die Filmreform, Arbeiter-Zeitung, May 17, 1924.
Film producers boycotted the meeting.
80. See Bach, Kino, and Ernst Weizmann, Der Film u n d die A rbeiterschaft,
ibid., May 1, 1924.
81. See for instance Die Welt des Films, ibid., Septem ber 12, 1926, and
August 14, 1932. Film exhibitors defended themselves against the charge o f serving
u p a heavy diet o f trash with the less than candid view that the public decides what
films are shown a stock answer in the international film world. See Der Defrau
d a n t, Der Filmbote 43:9 (Oct. 23, 1926): 5 -6.
82. See Glaser, Umfeld Austromarxismus, 4 9 6-97 .
83. Der blaue Engel, Das kleine Blatt, April 4, 1930.
84. In the exhortatory tone in which all o f his writing was couched, Rosenberg
urged youth to lead the way in the struggle against and for the cinema. See Wir
u n d das Kino, Der Jugendliche Arbeiter 27:2 (Feb. 1928): 2-3. Rosenfeld repeated
this argum ent on the radio. Der A rbeiter und d er Film: Vortrag, gehalten am 30.
J n n e r 1929 im W iener Radio (Arbeiterkammerstunde), Bildungsarbeit 16:2 (Feb.
1929): 17-20. He also attacked the alleged neutrality o f the Kulturfilm o r docum en
tary as a bourgeois deception, for the selection o f subjects alone reflected class bias.
What the working class needed, he argued, was not hypocritical neutrality but honest
proletarian films reflecting the class struggle. Der neutrale Kulturfilm, Bildung
sarbeit 16:9 (Sept. 1919): 105-8. Compulsively, Rosenfeld repeated his critique o f
the capitalist film even in exile, long after the possibility o f socialist influence on film

Notes to Pages 132-134

235

in Austria had passed. See Film und Proletariat: Versuch einer Soziologie des
Kinos, Arbeiterjahrbuch (Karlsbad, 1934).
85. Hirsch, Kino, 85.
86. Sozialdemokratische Kinopolitik, Der K am pf 2 2 :4 (April 1929): 192-97.
87. G erhard Dreier, Film und Partei, Bildungsarbeit 17:1-2 (Jan.-Feb. 1930):
18-20.
88. But even as late as 1932 the SDAPs theoretical organ featured an attack on
the film as the repository o f all the kitsch which had been driven out o f literature and
the fine arts. See Ernst L eonhard, Der Film als sthetische, wirtschaftliche und pol
itische Erscheinung, Der K am pf 2 5 :8 -9 (Aug.-Sept. 1932).
89. For the following, see Venus, Hinein in das Kino, 210-21.
90. Das Kino d e r Zehntausend, Arbeiter-Zeitung, April 3, 1927.
91. The bank was founded in 1922 as an economic enterprise by the SDAP, the
trade unions, and the cooperative societies. In 1932, long past its best years, the
Arbeiterbank had a capital stock o f 4 million Schillings, deposits o f 54 million, and
profits o f 713,000. See Kulemann, Beispiel, 319.
92. For the following, see Venus, Hinein in das Kino, 210-21.
93. In defending the new licensing procedures against its critics in the industry,
the SDAP claimed that the previous control by the police was subject to political
inlluence, whereas now city hall could help to improve the quality o f films exhibited.
The new law also contained a veiled form of censorship to protect youth un d er
sixteen. To be exhibited as Jugendfrei (general admission), all films had to be
screened by a municipal film committee. At the box office, age restrictions were dif
ficult to enforce. See Die Bundesregierung will das Wiener Kinogesetz verhin
d e rn , Arbeiter-Zeitung, August 22, 1926.
94. It appears that the H am bers excellent connections at city hall particularly
with Breitner and Seitz smoothed the way for their collaboration with Kiba.
95. The growth o f Kiba increased the n u m ber of complaints in film industry pub
lications about unfair com petition from an enterprise that enjoyed the support of
the Arbeiterbank and the municipal government. Ironically, it was charged that the
socialists were politicizing the cinema. See for instance Politisierung der Kinos,
Osterreichische-Film-Zeitung, February 19, 1927.
96. From 1925 to 1933 the m ajor film trade publications fomented against the
luxury tax on cinema, pointing out the favoritism shown to legitimate theater, which
paid markedly lower taxes, and to the Kiba movie houses, which were given other
economic privileges.
97. This included Kibas twelve plus ano th er fifteen commercial theaters. But
Kiba's indirect control was even greater, because its purchasing and renting power
made it possible to influence oth er distributors and to determ ine their choice of
films. Venus, Hinein in das Kino, 218.
98. Sozialdemokratische Kinopolitik, 195-96.
99. The SDAPs claim to be the champion o f the quality film with social content
was challenged in the controversy surrounding the exhibition o f the American film
All Q uiet on the W estern F ro n t in 1931. Disturbances during the first few screen
ings and fu rth e r threats o f violence by right-wing groups made it possible for the
national government to intervene on grounds o f threats to public order and
safety. As in the case o f Schnitzlers Reigen perform ance in 1921 (see ch. 6), the
socialist mayor and city councillors initially took a firm stand on not giving in to the
film criticism o f the street. But they capitulated only a few days later, and the film

Notes to Pages 134-136

236

was banned. Ironically, the SDAP organized bus tours to Bratislava, where the film
was being shown (leading to the popular quip: Im Westen nichts neues im Osten
gesehen). See Alfred Pfoser, Literatur und Austromarxismus (Vienna, 1980), 199201, and Grall, H inein, 84-85.
100. Venus, Hinein in das Kino, 224. When Kiba remodeled the old ApolloT heater into a luxurous movie palace at great expense, David Joseph Bach, Rosenfelds superior at Die Arbeiter-Zeitung, took on the jo b o f praising this creation and
writing the subsequent film reviews. See Rosenfelds letter o f 1976, quoted in H en
rietta Kotlan-W erner, Kunst und Volk: D avid Joseph Bach, 1 8 7 4 -1 9 4 7 (Vienna, 1977),
9 7 -9 8 .
101. The SDAPs failure to use the cinema law o f 1926 to its advantage in gaining
control over m ore theaters is similar to its feeble use o f the Wohnungsbefrderungsgesetz in the early 1920s to gain municipal control o f vacant o r unused dwellings.
102. For a glimpse o f ju st how ruthless the industry could be in the international
center o f the film world, see R obert Sklar, Movie-Made America: A Cultural History of
American Movies (New York, 1979), ch. 14, and Gorham Kindern, ed., The American
M ovie Industry: The Business o f Motion Pictures (Carbondale, 111., 1982).
103. For a similar ambiguity regarding film am ong socialists in Weimar G er
many, see Adelheid von Saldern, Ennobling Mass Culture: The Political and Cul
tural Striving for Good Taste and Good Morals in the Weimar Republic, paper
presented at the Colloquium on Mass Culture and the Working Class, 1914-70,
Paris, 1988.
104. The denigration o f film as a cheap form o f amusem ent lacking the noble
and serious qualities o f elite culture was prevalent in all social strata. Frequent
movie attendance was often adm itted with a certain embarrassment, as being some
how culturally unworthy. See Lassner, Kinobesuch, 5-7.
105. For the church's general position, see Wiener Dizesanblatt, July 10, 1926.
106. State ow nerhip a n d /o r control was usual in E urope and throughout the rest
o f the world except for the United States, where commercial advertisements formed
a principal part o f the revenue o f privately owned stations. In Austria radio listeners
paid modest users fees.
107. See Was ist die Ravag?, Die Brse, January 1, 1925; T heodor Venus, Ver
handlungen u n d G r n du ng d er sterreichischen Radio-Verkehrs A. G . (Ph.D.
diss. University o f Vienna, 1982), part 3; idem., Vom Funk zum Rundfunk Ein
K ulturfaktor entsteht, in Geistiges Leben im sterreich der Ersten Republik (Vienna,
1986).
108. SDAP proprietorship in Ravag (through the municipality) was 20%. The
advisory council had representatives from the Chambers o f Labor, Industry, and
Agriculture, from trade associations o f the radio industry and retailers, and from
associations o f listeners depending on membership. See T heodor Venus, Der
Sender sei die Kanzel des Volkes: zur sozialdemokratischen Rundfunkpolitik d er 1.
Republik, in sterreichische Gesellschaft fr Kulturpolitik, Arbeiterkultur in ster
reich, 22 6-3 3 .
109. Rintelin wrote in his memoirs that his intention from the beginning had
been to thwart the Marxists in Vienna. H e also participated in the Nazi putsch
against the Dollfuss governm ent in July 1934. See Ernst Glaser, Die Kulturleistung
des H rfunks in d er Ersten Republik, Geistiges lieben, 25 -2 6. The conflict between
business and culture orientations was made clear at the festive opening o f Ravag,
where Rintelin and Viennese mayor Seitz represented the two sides.

110. See Venus, Sender Kanzel des Volkes, 239-40.

Notes to Pages 136-139

237

111. See Venus, Verhandlungen u n d G rndung, 1329, and idem., Sender


Kanzel des Volkes, 244.
112. See Venus, V erhandlungen und G rndung, 1331.
1 13. See Rundfunkstatistik, Rundfunkarchiv 11:6 (June 1938): 252-56. O ne
should add about 10% to the official statistics o f illegal, non-fee-paying listeners
(information from T heodor Venus).
114. See Wer ist am Rundfunk interessiert?, Bildungsarbeit 17:4 (April 1930):
7 0 -7 1 . Radio listening had become habitual am ong American and German workers
by the end o f the 1920s. See Cohen, M aking a New Deal, 129-39, and Guttsman,
Workers Culture in Weimar Germany, 256-62. For Britain, see D. L. LeMahieu, A
Culture fo r Democracy (London, 1988, 141-54.
115. A simple tube set cost 212 Schillings; a seven-tube one, 400. Both were
available with eighteen monthly payments, with 10 percent down. Thus, in addition
to a down payment o f 22 o r 40 Schillings, monthly installments came to 10.50 or 20
Schillings. Radio receiver prices can be found in advertisements o f virtually every
issue o f Radio Welt: Illustrierte Wochenschrift f r Jedermann. Many workers, particu
larly those belonging to the W orkers Radio Club, also constructed their own tube
radios at a fraction o f the retail cost.
116. See for instance Arbeiter-Zeitung, January 6 and April 25, 1925; O ctober 6
and 17, 1926. During this period the program m ing apportionm ent (in percentages)
was music, 60 -6 9; literature, 11-16; lectures, 11-17; and news, 7 -9 . See Venus,
V erhandlungen u n d G r n du ng , 1325.
117. Radio-Welt 2 (1925), 1-2. With all the criticism o f Ravag not doing justice
to the cultural singularity o f Vienna, the municipal government made no attem pt to
establish a Vienna station independent of Ravag.
118. See G erhard Botz, Die Juli-D em onstranten, ihre Motive und die quantifizierbaren Ursachen des 15. Juli 1927, Die Ereignisse des 15. July 1927: Protokoll
des Symposiums in Wien am 15. July 1 9 7 7 (Vienna, 1979), and idem., Gewalt in der
Politik: Attentate, Zusammenstsse, Putschversuche, Unruhen in sterreich, 1 9 1 8 bis 1938

(Munich, 1983), 141-60, for the best accounts o f what am ounted to a miniature civil
war and the turning point in the politics o f the First Republic.
119. See the official Christian Social position in Die Ravag im Dienste der
sozialdemokratischen Partei, Reichspost, July 21, 1927.
120. The strategy o f the Germ an SPD on radio was very similar to that o f the
SDAP. It too sought pluralism and the aired contest o f political ideas, and its efforts
also foundered on the intransigence o f its political opponents. Ultimately, German
radio also became an organ o f the government. See H orst D. Iske, Die Film und
Rundfunkpolitik der SPD in der Weimarer Republik: Leitfaden und Dokumente (Berlin,
1985).
121. For the following, see Venus, Sender Kanzel des Volkes, 233 -3 4 , 258,
264.
122. Jahrbuch der sterreichischen Arbeiterbewegung, 1931 (Vienna, 1932), 426.
123. See Arbeiter-Zeitung, March 14 and Ju n e 22, 1928. This form o f censorship
persisted throughout the period whenever the Cham ber o f Labor proposed pro
grams that went beyond technical work issues to economic o r social relations. In the
two cases cited, the head o f the Cham ber o f Commerce and the minister o f education
insisted that the subjects were not within the competence, as they narrowly defined
it, o f the Cham ber of Labor. The Ravag administration hewed to this line, and the
socialists on the committees denounced the censorship and threatened to take
action.

238

Notes to Pages 139-140

124. Venus, Sender Kanzel des Volkes, 2 51 -5 2, 25 6 -5 7. Catholic and con


servative interests were compensated with programs on Easter and Christmas,
national evenings, religious music, military subjects, and such events as the huge
G erm an Song Society Festival in 1928. The socialists did succeed in blocking the
Ravag adm inistrations dem and for radio advertising. See Die Wirtschaft bei der
Ravag, Arbeiter-Zeitung, December 13, 1930.
125. Venus, Sender Kanzel des Volkes, 249. These substantial investments
were made at the expense o f creating a real team o f radio actors and musicians and
o f experim enting with the technical and artistic possibilities of radio as a mass
medium.
126. Reichspost, Septem ber 29, 1929. The socialists blamed the growing Heimwehr influence on Ravag for the absence o f any mention o f Martin AndersenNexs socialism when he gave a reading from his work. Arbeiter-Zeitung, Novem
ber 17, 1929. Not content with its indirect influence on Ravag, the Heimwehr
created its own club (Vaterlndischer Radiohrer) in 1932 and thereby replaced
m oderate conservatives on the program subcommittee. The Nazi Deutscher Volkhrerbund was created at the same time. See Venus, Sender Kanzel des Volkes,
260.
127. The Chancellors Jo h a n n Schober and Engelbert Dollfuss and President
Wilhelm Miklas gave addresses, as well as the Heimwehr leader Guido Jakoncig. That
privilege was denied to Mayor Seitz and other socialists politicians. Venus, Sender
Kanzel des Volkes, 255, 262.
128. In the municipal election o f April 1932, the Austrian Nazis received over
200,000 votes and 17.4 percent o f the mandates (as com pared to 27,500 in 1930).
See Rabinbach, Crisis, 89, and Frei, Rotes Wien, 59.
129. In a later reflection on the period, Ravag director Czeija maintained that
the Schuschnigg government was able to put the worker rising o f February 1934
down so quickly because he had two instruments: artillery and radio. Cited in Glaser,
Kulturleistung, 29.
130. T urning news broadcasts over to the national government controlled by
their opponents remains inexplicable.
131. Venus, Sender Kanzel des Volkes, 264-66. O n Septem ber 11, 1933,
Dollfuss declared Austria to be a corporate state; thereafter, the struggle could no
longer be waged by such peripheral means as mass resignations from radio mem
bership. But considering Viennas preponderance in the radio audience until 1928,
mass resignations then would have meant the economic ruin o f Ravag, which was a
business enterprise after all. That fact seemed to have been understood by the Ravag
m anagement; it was not acted u p o n by the socialists.
132. For the following, see Die H rerbefragung der Ravag, Radio-Wien 9:6
(1931/32): 2-4 . Socialist dem and for such a survey was motivated by the desire to
have the distribution o f listeners on record, so that the established preponderance
o f worker subscribers could be used to increase their representation on the program
subcommittee. Listeners attitudes and their evaluation o f the program m ing were of
less interest to the SDAP.
133. O perettas, one-act plays, geography, and recorded music likewise received
high marks. Low marks were also received by organ concerts, readings by authors,
literary lectures, and gymnastics.
134. A survey o f radio listeners in Weimar Germany came to virtually the same
conclusions. See von Saldern, Ennobling Mass C ulture, 18.
135. Age differences were selective: young men had greater interest in sports;

Notes to Pages 140-145

239

young women were negative on factual lectures; and the young of both sexes
expressed a liking for jazz.
136. H rerbefragung, 5.
137. See for instance Die H rer wnschen m ehr Heiterkeit, Das klein lilatl,
O cto ber 10, 1932.
138. T here were some exceptions, particularly in the Bildungszentrale, but lhey
had little influence over the partys cultural decision makers. See for instance Fritz
Rosenfeld, Der Rundfunk und das gute Gewissen, Bildungsarbeit, 19:10 (O d.
1932): 189-90.
139. Michel de Certeau offers a brilliant analysis o f the relationship between p ro
duction and consum ption in which the use made o f mass culture products by the
consum er is viewed as a process o f transform ation a kind o f production in
response. See The Practice o f Everyday Life, trans. Steven F. Rendall (Berkeley, ( )a.,
1984), 31.
140. Unfortunately, there exists no real history of Austrian soccer. Three exist
ing studies give little but a soccer fans view o f teams and players, with only occasional
references to size o f audience. See Leo Schidrowitz, Geschichte des Fussballsporles in
sterreich (Vienna, 1951); Karl Langisch, Geschichte des sterreichischen Fussballsports
(Vienna, 1965); and Karl Kastler, Eussballsport in sterreich (Linz, 1972).
141. Julius Deutsch, Unter Roten Fahnen: Vom Rekord zum Massensport (Vienna,
1931), 3 -1 2 . For the SDAPs position on commercial sports, see ch. 4.
142. Hendrik deM an, Zur Psychology des Sozialismus (Jena, 1927), 3 6 -3 9.
143. See for instance Peter Friedmann, Die Krise d er Arbeitersportbewegung
am Ende d e r W eimarer Republik, in Friedhelm Boll, ed., Arbeiterkulturen zwischen
A lltag und Politik: Beitrge zum europischen Vergleich in der Zwischenkriegszeit (Vienna,
1986), 2 3 5-40 . For intraspectator agression, see R. Horak, W. Reiter, K. Stcker,
eds., Ein Spiel dauert lnger als 90 M inuten: Fussball und Gewalt in Europa (Ham
burg, 1988).
144. An Austria-Italy match attracted 90,000 spectators who caused a dangerous
landslide. Schidrowitz, Geschichte Fussballsportes, 125.
145. For the season 193233, official statistics list 446 professional champion
ship games and 121 professional cup games. See Handbuch der Gemeiruie Wien
(Vienna, 1935), 201.
146. The idea that mass culture manipulates the consumer, imposing false needs
and false consciousness on him, has been challenged only recently. Hans Magnus
Enzensberger, for instance, suggests that the success o f mass culture depends in part
o n its appeal to real needs. See Constituents of a Theory o f the Media, The Con
sciousness Industry: On Literature, Politics, and the Media (New York, 1974).
147. For an interesting account o f how young workers creatively both survived
and used their leisure time during the depression, see Safrian, 'Wir ham die Zeit.
148 It is interesting that the socialists paid hardly any attention to the oldest
forms o f spontaneous noncommercial leisure-time activities (rambling, swimming),
which clearly, could not be thrown in the pot with cheap capitalist distractions.
These activities continued to make a considerable claim on the workers free time,
which the party dem anded for itself. The party apparently chose to treat the subject
with silence.
149.
See Larry May, Screening O u t the Past: The Birth o f M ass C u ltu re a n d the
M otion Picture Industry ((Chicago, 1980), 3 4 -42 ; Sklar, M ovie-M ade America, ch. 2; and
Roy Rosen/.weig, F ight H onrs for W hat You W ill: Workers a n d Leisure in Worcester, M a s
sachusetts (Cambridge, Mass., 1983), ch. H

240

Notes to Pages 146-148

C h ap ter 6
1. See Richard J. Evans, Introduction: the Sociological Interpretation o f G er
man L abour History, in idem., The German Working Class, 1 8 8 8 -1 9 3 3 : The Politics
o f Everyday Life (London, 1982), 4 0-41 . For a m ore general discussion o f the worker
family as receptor and resister, see the unpublished conference paper o f Geoff Filey,
Some Thoughts on the History o f the Family and Its Relation to the History o f the
Working Class, Second Meeting, SSRC Research Seminar G roup on M odern Ger
man Social History, January 12-13, 1979.
2. See Joseph Ehmer, Familienstruktur und Arbeitsorganisation im frhindustiellen
Wien (Vienna, 1980), 208-36.
3. See Joseph Ehmer, Vaterlandslose Gesellen und respektable Familienvter:
Entwicklungsformen der Arbeiterfamilie im internationalen Vergleich, 18501930, in H elm ut Konrad, ed., Die deutsche und die sterreichische Arbeiterbewegung zur
7.eit der Zweiten Internationale (Vienna, 1982), 136-38.
4. See particularly O tto Bauer, Mieterschutz, Volkskultur und Alkoholismus: Rede
im Arbeiter-Abstinentenbund am 20. Mrz 1928 (Vienna, 1929).
5. This development had been presum ed by Marx and Engels and, m ore recently,
by August Bebel, Klara Zetkin, and Lilly Braun.
6. Reinhard Sieder, Behind the Lines: Working-Class Family Life in Wartime
Vienna, in Richard Wall and Jay Winter, eds., The Upheaval o f War: Work and Welfare
in Europe, 1 9 1 4 -1 9 1 8 (Cambridge, 1988), 134.
7. For the origins and later meaning o f the concept ordentliche Familie, see
Joseph Ehmer, Familie u n d Klasse: Zur E ntstehung der Arbeiterfamilie in Wien,
in Michael M itterauer and Reinhard Sieder, eds., Historische Familienforschung
(Frankfurt, 1982).
8. See Joseph Ehmer, Frauenarbeit un d Arbeiterfamilie in Wien: Vom Vormrz
bis 1934, Geschichte und Gesellschaft 7:3/4 (1981): 451, 470, tables 1 and 2. Almost
half (41.3 percent) o f all women were married.
9. The subject quite naturally received extensive and repeated coverage in the
publications intended for women: Die Frau, Die Unzufriedene, Die Mutter, and Einheit.
But it was also a m ajor concern o f Die sozialistische Erziehung, Der Vertrauensmann,
Bildungsarbeit, Das kleine Blatt, Der Kuckuck, and Der Kampf. It is interesting to note
that female white-collar employees, the majority o f whom were unmarried, were sub
ject to versions o f the triple b u rd en experienced by blue-collar m arried female
workers. The b urden o f the white-collar employee took place in the environment of
the family o f origin where, as a daughter, she was expected to share in the housework
and even look after children with other female family members. See Erna Appelt,
Von Landenmdchen, Schreibfrulein und Gouvernanten: Die weiblichen Angestellten
Wiens zwischen 19 0 0 und 1934 (Vienna, 1985), 169-78.

10. See G ottfried Pirhofer, Politik am Krper: Frsorge und G esundheit


swesen, Ausstellungskatalog Zwischenkriegszeit Wiener Kommunalpolitik (Vienna,
1980), 69.
11. See Marianne Pollak, Die Unnahbarkeit d er Frau, Der Kam pf 20:9 (Sept.
1927): 43 5-37 .
12. See Marianne Pollak, Frauenleben von gestern und heute (Vienna, 1928), 23
24. T he municipality even created a clinic to correct physical deformities (bellies,
buttocks, breasts) without charge. See Pirhofer, Politik am K rper, 69.
13. See Jam es F. McMillan, Housewife or Harlot: The Place of Women in French Soci

Notes to Pages 148-150

241

ety, 1 8 7 0 -1 9 4 0 (New York, 1981), 166. The masculinization o f female dress was also

greatly influenced by such Parisian designers as Coco Chanel.


14. For Germany, see Atina Grossmann, The New Woman and the Rationaliza
tion o f Sexuality in Weimar Germany, in Ann Snitow et al., eds., Power o f Desire: The
Politics of Sexuality (New York, 1983), 156-57. For the United States, see John DF.milio and Estelle B. Freedman, Intimate Matters: A History of Sexuality in America (New
York, 1988), 23 3-3 5 . For England, see D eirdre Beddoe, Back to Home and Duty:
Women Between the Wars, 1 9 1 8 -1 9 3 9 (London, 1989), 22-24.
15. See Therese Schlesinger, Die Frau im sozialdemokratischen Parteiprogramm
(Vienna, 1928), 5-9.
16. See Reinhard Sieder, Hausarbeit o der die andere Seite d er Lohnarbeit,
15. sterreichischer Historikertag, Salzburg 1981 (Salzburg, 1984), 159-61, and Joseph
Ehmer, Frauenarbeit und Arbeiterfamilie, 459.
17. See Emmy Freundlich, Z ur Frage Einkchenhaus, Die Frau 34:7 (July 1,
1925): 5 -6 , and M arianne Poliak, Wie kommt die berufsttige Frau zu ihrem Acht
stundentag?, Arbeit und Wirtschaft 1 (Jan. 1, 1929): 4 4 -4 6 .
18. See Irena Hift-Schnierer, Die neue Frau im neuen Haushalt, Die Mutter
1:12 (May 1925): 16-17.
19. Poliak, Fraueideben, 3940.
20. See for instance Hilf dir selbst, Der Kuckuck 2:4 (Jan.26, 1930).
21. Poliak, Frauenleben, 3 7-38 .
22. See Therese Schlesinger, Proletarisches Spiessbrgertum , DerJugendliche
Arbeiter, 23:3 (March 1924): 10-11; Marianne Poliak, Beruf und H aushalt, Hand
buch der Frauenarbeit in sterreich (Vienna, 1930), 4 13 -1 9 ; and O tto Feliz Kanitz,
V ortrag au f dem 2. Kongress fr Sozialismus u nd Individualpsychologie, Die
sozialistische Erziehung 7:11 (Nov. 1927).
23. See Robert Danneberg, Die neue Frau (Vienna, 1924), 9. This pamphlet was
announced (in its preface) as the first in a quarterlyseries intended for women and
girls already in the Socialist party. The stated aim was an exchange o f views
between the party and its female members. It is difficult to imagine what the mech
anism for such an exchange might have been.
24. And thus become a good friend to their children and a com rade to their hus
band. Poliak, Frauenleben, 45. For Danneberg, the model for such emotionalization
was the bourgeois woman. See Neue Frau, 9.
25. Helene Bauer, Ehe und soziale Schichtung, Der Kam pf 20:7 (July 1927):
319-22.
26. See Neschy Fischer, Ehe als soziales Problem, Der Kam pf 20:8 (Aug. 1927):
3 87-89.
27. Anton H anaks Caring M other was representative of the m otherhood
genre. See Pirhofer, Politik am K rper, 48, 69.
28. See for instance Fedora Auslaender, Frauenarbeit und Rationalisierung,
Handbuch der Frauenarbeit, 30.
29. See M artha Eckl, K rperkultur und proletarische Weiblichkeit, 1918
1934: Eine U ntersuchung am Beispiel d e r Frauenzeitschriften d er Sozialdemokra
tischen Arbeiterpartei Deutsch/sterreichs (Diplomarbeit, Institut fr Wirt
schafts- und Sozialgeschichte University of Vienna, 1986), 54-55.
30. See Veronika Kaiser, sterreichs Frauen, 1918-1938: Studien zu Alltag
und Rollenverstndnis in politischen F rauenblttern (Ph.D. diss. University o f
Vienna, 1086), 87.

242

Notes to Pages 151-152

31. Poliak, Frauenleben, 24-25.


32. See Marie Deutsch-Kramer, Die Befreiung der Frau durch den S port, Die
Frau 38:6 (June 1, 1929): 10-11.
33. See Dr. Wanda Reiss, Die Pflege des weiblichen K rpers, Die Mutter 1:1
(Jan. 1925): 5.
34. So leben w ir . . . 1320 Industriearbeiterinnen berichten ber ihr Leben (Vienna,
1932). This study was based on a one-third return o f 4,000 questionnaires distrib
uted in 1931 by shop stewards at the workplace, supplem ented by interviews and
written com munications from the workers. The sample was drawn from all the lead
ing industrial sectors in which women were employed. But it represents workers
whos condition was above the average: somewhat older, m ore secure at the work
place, not excessively dulled by misery, and already in contact with the working-class
movement (party a n d /o r trade union membership, o r sympathy with the same). The
general condition o f Viennese working women, Leichter cautions, was considerably
worse (3-4). 42.8% o f the sample were single; 39% were married; 0.09% lived with
a companion; 11.4% were widowed; and 5.9% were divorced. See also Wie leben die
Wiener Heimarbeiter'?: Eine Erhebung ber Arbeits- und Lebensverhltnisse von tarnend
Heimarbeitern (Vienna, 1928). This survey was conducted in 1927 along the same

lines as indicated above, save for the assistance o f shop stewards; 94.91 % o f the
homeworkers were women.
35. See PTimer, Frauenarbeit, 470, table 1. As Ehm er acknowledges, the cen
sus figures left out a large sector o f working-class women: those who considered
themselves employed for less than full time. This category included tens of thousands
o f homeworkers.
36. Ibid., 472, table 6. The growth in factory workers was greatest in the newer
industries, with women comprising 40% in the electrical industry, 50% in metal
working, and 80% in lightbulb production. Women continued to dominate in the
traditional female textile and weaving industry. Domestics had decreased by 50%
since 1910, whereas employees mainly office workers and sales clerks were the
fastest growing occupational g roup (454).
37. See Jo a n W. Scott and Louise A. Tilly, W om ans Work and the Family in
N ineteenth-Century E urope, Comparative Studies in Society and History 17 (1975).
38. Leichter, So leben wir, 4 1 -4 4.
39. Ibid., 78-79.
40. Ibid., 8 1 -8 3 . Only 14% o f the women received some assistance from men
with housework and childcare. The average workday o f Germ an female textile work
ers was equally long and filled with tensions brought on by multiple responsibilities
and the lack o f time to fulfill them. Though single women disposed o f more free time
after factory work, they were invariably forced to lend a hand with housework and
child care in the family household. See D eutscher Textilarbeiterverband, 150 Ber
ichte von Textilarbeiterinnen (Berlin, 1930).
41. Leichter, So leben wir, 73-74.
42. Reinhard Sieder, H ousing Policy, Social Welfare and Family Life in Red
Vienna, 1 9 1 9 -1 93 4 , Oral History: Journal of the Oral History Society 13:2 (1985): 39.
43. See G ottfried Pirhofer and Reinhard Sieder, Zur Konstitution d e r Arbei
terfamilie im Roten Wien: Familienpolitik, K ulturreform , Alltag und sthetik, in
Michael M itterauer and Reinhard Sieder, eds., Historische Familienforschung (Frank
furt, 1982), 34 2-43 . For m arried couples living in crowded parental homes, see
especially the oral history files o f Frauen Schau, Win, Pre, and F'ie available at the
Institut fr Wirts< hafts- und So/.ialgeschichle of the University o f Vienna.

Notes to Pages 152-154

243

44. Leichter, So leben wir, 9 4 -9 7 . As a result, only 21.9% o f the children under
6 went to kindergarten, and 18.1% o f those und er 14 made use o f the after-school
centers. O f the latter age group, 17% had no supervision whatever.
45. Ibid., 109-10.
46. Ehmer, F rauenarbeit, 464-65.
47. Ibid., 4 6 1-6 2 .
48. Ibid., 4 5 9 -6 0 . This conclusion is well dem onstrated in an American study.
See Ruth Schwartz Cowan, The Ironies of Household Technology from the Open Hearth
to the Microwave (New York, 1983).
49. See Reinhard Sieder, Street Kids: The Socialization o f Viennese WorkingClass C hildren, typescript o f pap er delivered at the International Colloquim on
Sociabilit o f the Working Class, held in Paris in 1985, 21, and Robert Wegs, Grow
ing Up Working Class: Continuity and Change Among Viennese Youth, 1 8 9 0 -1 9 3 8 (Uni
versity Park, Pa, 1989), 140-42.
50. See M argarete Rada, Das reifende Proletarier-Mdchen (Vienna, 1931), 5960,
8 2-84 .
51. See Kthe Leichter, Frauenarbeit und Arbeitterinnenschutz in sterreich
(Vienna, 1927), 58.
52. See Kthe Leichter, Die Entwicklung d er Frauenarbeit nach dem Krieg,
Handbuch der Frauenarbeit, 40, 42, and Edith Riegler, Frauenleitbild und Frauenarbeit
in sterreich (Vienna, 1976), 132. Leichter argues that low female wages rather than
improved technology were the cornerstone of Austrian economic rationalization
(34).
53. See for instance Kthe Leichter, Vom Frauenberuf: Das Schwache Ges
chlecht bei d er A rbeit, Das kleine lilatt, Oct. 19, 1927.
54. See Leichter, Wie leben die Wiener Heimarbeiter'?, 11, 13, 1 9 ,2 5 ,3 7 ,4 1 , 45.
55. See Gabriele Czachay, Die soziale Situation d e r Hausgehilfinnen Wiens in
der Zwischenkriegszeit (master thesis, University o f Vienna, 1985), 143-48. Mar
ianne Poliaks romantic novella in which a maid goes to vocational school, learns
about the law protecting domestics, and finds love and marriage with a true com
rade all with the guidance o f the SDAP is far removed from reality. See Aber
schaun S , F ruln Marie!: Liebesgeschichte einer Hausgehilfin (Vienna, 1932).
56. See Wilhelmine Moik, Die Freien Gewerkschaften und die Frauen, Hand
buch der Frauenarbeit, 581.
57. See Peter Stiefel, Arbeitslosigkeit: Soziale, politische und wirtschftliche Auswirkungem am Beispiel sterreich (Berlin, 1979), 200202.
58. See F rauenarbeit, Arbeit und Wirtschaft 7:15 (Aug. 1, 1929): 698, and
Doppelverdiener, Die Arbeiterin 7:4/5 (April-May 1930): 5.
59. See Frauenarbeit, "Jahrbuch 1932 des Bundes der Freien Gewerkschaften ster
reichs (Vienna., 1933), 115.
60. F rauenarbeit, Arbeit und Wirtschaft, 702.
61. At the trade union congress o f 1931 the num ber o f female delegates reached
11.3 percent. But female union membership was twice as high. See Heinz Renner,
Die Frau in den Freien Gewerkschaften sterreichs, 1901-1932: Statistische
Materialien, International Conference o f Labor Historians, ITH Tagungsbericht 13
(Vienna, 1980), 1: 322, 329.
62. So leben wir, 1 16, 122. But 73.3% o f her sample were trade union members.
6 3 . 4 1.2% o f t h e h u s b a n d s o r life c o m p a n i o n s o f t h e s e w o m e n w e r e u n e m p l o y e d ;
8 2 . 3 % o f (h e w o m e n s u p p o r t e d o t h e r s o r a t least th e m se lv e s . Ib id ., 13, 103, 107.
64. I b id ., 54 I ,ei< l ite r e x a g g e r a t e s t h e i m p o r t a n c e o f t h e fact th a t 3 1.9% o f the

244

Notes to Pages 154-155

single women said they would continue working in any case. She overlooks the fact
that these women had as yet only limited household and childcare responsibilities.
65. See Marie Jahoda, Paul Lazersfeld, and Hans Zeisel, Die Arbeitslosen von M ar
iethal: Ein soziographischer Versuch (1933; Bonn, 1980), 9 1 -9 2 and Ehmer, Frauen
arbeit, 466. In the female network o f factory labor, information about birth control
and abortion was traded freely. Ibid., 46 8-6 9 .
66. Generally the women workers lunch brought to the factory consisted o f
bread and vegetables often eaten unheated. For the generally high carbohydrate and
fat content o f working-class diets, see Der Lebensstandard von Wiener Arbeiter
familien im Lichte langfristiger Familienbudgetuntersuchungen, Arbeit und Wirt
schaft 13:12 (Dec. 1959): supplem ent 8, 10. See also Roman Sandgruber, Bitterssse
Gensse: Kulturgeschichte der Genussmittel (Vienna, 1986), 81, 182.
67. Leichter reports (So leben wir, 108-15) that 78.7 % spent evenings at home
doing housework. Meetings were attended by a mere 4.4%. Entertainm ent outside
the cinema was virtually unknown. Only the radio (aside from the press) offered a
steady contact with the wider world, but only for 36.1% o f the sample. Leichter
makes too much o f the young, unm arried women who were able to get out o f the
home. She neglects the fact that, to make this freedom possible, some other, usually
older, woman in the household had to bear the full burden.
68. Leichter, Entwicklung der F rauenarbeit, 38.
69. For the SDAP, see H elene Maimann, ed., Die ersten 1 0 0 Jahre: sterreichische
Sozialdemokratie, 1 8 8 8 -1 9 8 8 (Vienna, 1988), 3 5 1 .1 have been unable to find reliable
figures for Viennese trade union and Cham ber o f Workers and Employees function
aries. I f one includes the lowest level o f these, an estimate o f several hu ndred might
be realistic.
70. But it must be kept in mind that, here as well as in the SDAP, trade unions,
and Cham ber o f Workers and Employees, women were grossly underrepresented.
T he one exception was the municipalitys D epartm ent o f Social Welfare, in which
2,884 women were employed. It was the only branch o f the administration with a
heavy concentration o f female employees. See A nna Grnwald, Die Frau in der
Gemeindeverwaltung in d er Gemeinde W ien, Handbuch der Frauenarbeit, 653.
71. This distance was deplored by individual socialists leaders. See Max Adler
and Kthe Leichter in ch. 4.
72. The birthdates o f six doyennes were as follows: Anna Boschek, 1874; Adel
heid Popp, 1879; Emmy Freundlich, 1878; Therese Schlesinger, 1863; Gabriele
Proft, 1879; Amalie Seidel, 1876. See H erm ine Agnezy, Die Frauenbewegung in
d e r Sozialdemokratischen Partei von 1918 bis 1934 (Hausarbeit, Institut fr Zeit
geschichte, University o f Vienna, 1